Richard H. Honaker, the nominee for a federal district judgeship in Wyoming, has unanimously been given the ABA judicial-evaluation committee’s highest “well qualified” rating. His three decades of legal practice include service as a state assistant attorney general, as a public defender, as president of the state trial lawyers association, as president of the state bar, and as a member (appointed by the state supreme court) of state rules and disciplinary committees. In addition, he served for six years in the state legislature, from 1987 to 1993—all as a Democrat. (He later became a Republican.)
So why, you might wonder, is Honaker on the Left’s hit list? Why did it take the Senate Judiciary Committee nearly a year (he was nominated in March 2007) even to give him a hearing (last month)? Why is he now being held up in committee?
The answer is as simple as it is revealing: As a state legislator in 1991 and 1992, Honaker introduced a bill that would prohibit abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or of threat to the mother’s life, and in 1994 he worked to get that measure offered as a statewide initiative.*
Never mind that opponents of Honaker’s nomination have pointed to nothing in his record that indicates that he doesn’t understand the difference between policymaking and judging. Never mind that the unanimous “well qualified” rating from the ABA (which is certainly no friend of pro-lifers) means that the ABA committee determined that Honaker has “outstanding legal ability, breadth of experience, and the highest reputation for integrity” and “demonstrate[s] the capacity for sound judicial temperament.” Never mind that one of his legislative opponents on the abortion bill has publicly stated:
I believe he has the potential to be one of the finest trial judges ever to serve in this state. His commitment to fairness is second to none. I can truthfully say that there is no person I would rather have as a judge on a case, no matter what side of any issue I was on, than Dick Honaker.
Every now and then, Democrats profess to be respectful of those who disagree with the Democratic party line on abortion. Let’s see whether, and how long, Senate Democrats’ kowtowing to pro-abortion groups on the Honaker nomination continues.
* Opponents of his nomination throw in some other claims, including that Honaker has made statements about “legal philosophy” that “raise significant concerns about [his] ability to fairly and impartially apply the law,” but the evidence they offer (see, e.g., here on pages 2-3) doesn’t remotely support their claims.