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Bench Memos

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Brownback’s Nomination Hold



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I really, really like Senator Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.)—more, in fact, than I like Mitt Romney (take that, Kathryn!).  But I really, really didn’t like his recent use of the senatorial “hold” on one of the president’s judicial nominations for what can only be described as an improper reason, namely that the nominee had attended a same-sex “commitment ceremony.”  So I find myself in a rare moment of agreement with a New York Times editorial today.  I disagree with the newspaper’s characterization of the senator as a hateful bigot when it comes to homosexuals, but he was wrong to use the mere attendance of Judge Janet Neff at such a ceremony as a reason to oppose her nomination to the federal bench.  Even worse was his fallback position (as the Times describes it) that he “would allow a vote on Judge Neff if she agreed to recuse herself from cases involving same-sex unions.”  The paper has it right: “The Senate does not get to tell federal judges what areas of law they may rule on.”  For a man musing about the presidency, this was a serious misstep.


Tags: Franck


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