Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Re: Benjamin Wittes’s Confirmation Wars


My Weekly Standard review of Benjamin Wittes’s Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times is now available online here.  An excerpt: 

I do not mean to suggest that the typical Republican senator acts from more noble motives on judicial nominations than the typical Democrat. But I do believe that there is a significant difference in their conduct—and in the incentives that shape their conduct. In particular, many Republicans have conditioned themselves to believe that, on a high-profile matter like a Supreme Court nomination, the course that is in their self-interest—the easiest path to reelection—is to keep the nomination from becoming controversial and to support the nominee even, or rather especially, when the nomination is by a Democratic president. Republicans will use obscure procedures to obstruct lower-court nominees, but they shy from public battles. Democrats with national ambitions are driven, even at their political peril (recall Tom Daschle), to fight Republican judicial nominees tooth and nail.

Unfortunately, Wittes’s dogma of moral equivalence blinds him from recognizing, much less exploring the reasons for, this disparity.


Tags: Whelan


Subscribe to National Review