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Bench Memos

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RE: RE: Anti-Pryor Votes



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Jonathan, thanks for clarifying. I would be pleased to reach agreement on the terms you propose. Thanks for your successful mediation.

Collins on Pryor



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Here’s the Washington Post on Sen. Collins’ explanation for her vote against Pryor (as opposed to her votes for Owen and Brown):

Collins said in a statement that she was worried about Pryor’s temperament and “respect for the judicial system.” She noted that he once said of a Supreme Court death penalty ruling, “This issue should not be decided by nine octogenarian lawyers.”
Some have wondered whether Collins wasn’t really figuring that many Maine voters would welcome a vote against someone who was both a Southern white male and a devout Catholic. (The fact that Collins herself is Catholic would not weigh decisively against, and might even weigh in favor of, such a calculus.) So it’s good to hear a reason that doesn’t indulge racist, sexist, and religious prejudice.

But how good is Collins’ stated reason?

A proper respect for the judicial system must be reconciled with a proper respect for the power of American citizens to exercise their rights of self-governance. When judges overstep their bounds, political officials (Pryor was Alabama’s attorney general at the time of his comment) have an obligation to respond with vigor. Pryor himself acknowledged this his particular phrasing was “overheated political rhetoric,” but that is a far more minor offense than that of our many senators who celebrate or acquiesce in judicial power grabs.

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Thomas the Orginalist for Chief!



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Charles Krauthammer today:

I hope President Bush nominates Thomas to succeed Rehnquist as chief justice, not just because honoring an originalist would be an important counterweight to the irresistible modern impulse to legislate from the bench but, perhaps more importantly, to expose the idiocy of the attacks on Thomas that will inevitably be results-oriented: hostile toward women, opposed to gun-free schools . . . and pro-marijuana?

Coincidence?



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Readers notice that the online version of the Pryor profile in the NYT is sponsored by Kinsey on DVD.

RE: The Timpanist



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Jon, maybe it’s selective memory on my part, but do you remember reading a graph like this in the New York Times prior to Pryor’s confirmation (emphasis mine)?

But Mr. Pryor was careful not to take his conservative activism too far. He was successful in overturning a federal order barring student-led prayer in Alabama’s public schools, yet rejected the argument of Mr. James, the former governor, that teacher-led prayer was acceptable because the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states.

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Pryor Was a Timpanist



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The NYT has a fair profile of Bill Pryor here.

RINO Watch



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From today’s NYT:

Other lawmakers pointed to the fact that Judge Pryor lost the votes of three moderate Northeastern Republicans, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, as a signal to President Bush that he should be careful in pushing conservative nominees not acceptable to all in the Senate majority.

Judge Cabranes



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Rumor has it Second Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes was passed over for the Supreme Court because Hispanic groups did not think he was liberal enough. Justice Breyer got the nod instead. Now some folks would like to see President Bush nominate Judge Cabranes to the Supreme Court. Not likely. As one of his supporters laments: “He’s the kind of judge that Democrats wish Republicans would nominate and Republicans wish the Democrats would nominate–which probably means he won’t be nominated.”

RE: Anti-Pryor Votes



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Ed, I think you and my correspondent may actually agree. Yes, Judge Pryor understands that the Constitution doesn’t speak to abortion one way or the other, and recognizes the irrelevance of his personal views to the practice of judging. The point is that many of those who voted against him do not. Because they believe that judges will, and perhaps even should, decide cases in accordance with their personal political views, they are uncomfortable with nominees who express pro-life views in strong terms.

There Was Champagne



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Re: Anti-Pryor Votes



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Jonathan’s correspondent is overlooking a critical point. No matter how much Pryor deplores abortion, his view that the Constitution does not speak — one way or the other — to the matter means that (if he were free to disregard Supreme Court precedent) his views would have the same weight as any other voter’s. He understands, in other words, what it means to be a citizen in a constitutional republic. Those who would maintain Roe don’t.

“Profile of Potential Supreme Court Nominee - Senator John Cornyn”



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Breaking Out the Champagne on 1600 Penn Ave.



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STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

I am pleased that the Senate voted today to confirm three distinguished and highly qualified judges to the United States Court of Appeals: Judge Bill Pryor, Judge Richard Griffin, and Judge David McKeague.

More than a year ago, I recess appointed Judge Pryor to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to fill a vacancy that had been designated a judicial emergency by the Judicial Conference of the United States. Judge Pryor’s recent service on the Eleventh Circuit has built on an impressive career of public service in which he has applied the law fairly and impartially to all people. I commend the Senate for fulfilling its constitutional responsibility to vote on Judge Pryor and for confirming him so that he will continue his service on this court.

Both Judge Griffin and Judge McKeague have served on the Michigan courts for more than a decade, during which time each has demonstrated a strong commitment to the rule of law. Both are well qualified to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and will fill vacancies that have been designated judicial emergencies by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

These three nominees have waited a combined total of over eight years for their votes. I applaud the Senate for today giving these fine nominees the up-or-down votes they deserve.


Pryor Hearing



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Hey, Adler, wanna watch the hearing? He would not give them an inch and they hated it.

I have it on DVD. All the cool kids do. Southern Comfort for all.

(P.S. I was joking. Not about his performance, however.)

Two More



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The Senate voted unanimously to confirm Griffin and McKeague to the Sixth Circuit.

Re: Anti-Pryor Votes



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My correspondent defends his position:

I don’t disagree with Ed Whelan lightly, but I’m sticking to my guns. Pryor did more than simply call Roe/Casey a legal travesty (though Ed is right that overruling those decisions would not render abortion unlawful, but simply would return the issue to the democratic arena where it could be resolved on a state-by-state basis, or perhaps by Congress). Pryor also lamented the consequences of Roe/Casey – viz., millions of slaughtered unborn children. I think that’s almost an exact quote. So Pryor was not simply deploring the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence an arrogation of a power that properly belongs to legislatures. He was signaling his views on the underlying policy question. That’s the sense in which Pryor’s nomination can be said to have implicated the core issue of the lawfulness of abortion.
I would add that if one watches the original Judiciary Committee hearing at which Pryor testified, it was clear many Senators were aghast not so much at his views on Roe, as with his unwillingness to disavow his prior characterizations of the result.

Griffith



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Frist just said on the floor that:
“I ask that at 2:30 p.m. Monday, June 13, the Senate proceed to the Griffith Nomination as provided under the order. Provided further that following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate resume legislative session and the vote occur on the confirmation of the nomination at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 14.”

The chair said: “without objection.”


The Three



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I am aware of no doctrinal difference among Owen, Brown and Pryor over abortion. And abortion was certainly an issue in the Owen debate, and is an underlying issue in all of this.

Pryor Vote Tally



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The final vote tally is here. Three Republicans voted against Pryor: Chafee, Snowe, and Collins. One was a no show: Murkowski. Two Dems voted for Pryor: Nelson and Salazar. The lone “Independent” Senator did not vote.

RE: Anti-Pryor Votes



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Jonathan, your correspondent incorrectly states that “Pryor’s nomination presented, full-frontal, the core issue of whether abortion should be permitted.” Even apart from the fact that Pryor’s confirmation is to the court of appeals, overturning Roe would not mean that abortion would not be permitted. It would mean only that the judiciary’s unconstitutional power grab on the abortion issue would end, and the people would decide through their legislators what abortion policy should be.

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