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Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Clinton vs. Bush



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In the first two years of his second term, President Clinton, facing a Senate controlled by Republicans, had 20 of his court of appeals nominees confirmed. In the 15 months since the beginning of his second term, President Bush, dealing with a Senate controlled by his own party, has had only eight of his court of appeals nominees confirmed.

These numbers, of course, do not tell the full story, nor do they signal where responsibility for President Bush’s lower number lies. Among other things, both the White House and Senate Republicans expended considerable energy in support of—and deserve considerable credit for—the successful confirmations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito.

It’s worth noting that there are only eight pending court of appeals nominations. Four of these are rather recent (one in December and three in February), and two others (Haynes to the Fourth Circuit and Myers to the Ninth Circuit) apparently have run into problems with at least some Republicans. So that leaves as most pressing the nominations of Terry Boyle to the Fourth Circuit and Brett Kavanaugh to the D.C. Circuit.

Meanwhile, there are ten vacancies to which there is no nomination pending. It’s far from clear whether and to what extent the White House should be held accountable for failing to keep the pipeline filled or whether the Senate’s excessive indulgence of self-serving (and Democrat-enhancing) senatorial prerogatives is to blame. With plenty other possible vacancies on the horizon, it’s well past time for the White House and Senate Republicans to work together to get quality candidates nominated and confirmed promptly.



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