Yesterday’s New York Times has a house editorial that wildly distorts the letter that Senate Republicans sent to President Obama last week urging consultation on judicial nominees. (I discussed that letter here.) Here is a non-exhaustive list of the editorial’s distortions:
1. The editorial contends that Republican senators are now “threatening … filibusters if Mr. Obama’s nominees are not to their liking”, and it alleges that this threat is “at odds with their previous views on the subject.” But the Republican senators’ letter does not threaten filibusters for the purpose of defeating judicial nominees “not to their liking”. It threatens a filibuster if Democrats trample the traditional blue-slip privilege.
2. As to the blue-slip privilege: The editorial states that Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy “must decide whether to follow the Senate’s ‘blue slip’ tradition, which holds that judicial nominees should not move forward without their home-state senators’ support.” Two sentences later, it asserts that “Republicans abandoned them [blue slips] when they controlled the Senate under Mr. Bush.” That assertion is a fantasy, an ignorant statement, or an outright lie. All that Senate Republicans are seeking is maintenance of the same blue-slip practice that
they afforded Democrats Democrats successfully insisted on* under President Bush. There is nothing that Leahy “must decide”—unless he wants to trample the blue-slip privilege.
3. The editorial asserts that Republicans “insisted that Mr. Obama begin by appointing holdover nominees who were never confirmed by the Senate.” But Republicans didn’t “insist” on anything. They merely “suggest[ed]” that “[i]t would help change the tone in Washington if [the Obama] Administration would take the same bipartisan step” that President Bush took in 2001—by renominating two Bush nominees. But for the New York Times, it’s evidently fine for Obama to engage in a lot of sweet-sounding talk of bipartisanship, but objectionable to put it into practice.
* I explain this change here.