Bench Memos

More Greenhouse Gas

New York Times blogger Linda Greenhouse has a post complaining about the judicial-confirmation rate, especially about the slow pace of White House nominations and the failure of Senate Democratic leadership to make judicial confirmations a high priority. Her broader points are commonplace on the Left, and I’ll limit myself here to a point of personal privilege. Greenhouse writes:

[W]hat could Republican senators possibly hold against [D.C. Circuit nominee Caitlin Halligan]? … A National Review blogger [yours truly] was reduced to accusing her of “left-wing extremism” for having been one of three dozen members of a committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York that issued a report in early 2004 critical of the Bush administration’s Guantanamo Bay detention policies.

As it happens, this report has been sitting on my shelf for the past seven years. Not having looked at it in quite a while, I turned to the conclusion on page 153 to see how exactly how extreme it was. Anyone who finds the concluding paragraphs to represent left-wing extremism has been living in a different universe:

The Constitution is not a “suicide pact,” as a Supreme Court justice once famously declared. But neither is it a mere compact of convenience, to be enforced only in times of civic tranquility. It should take far more than the monstrous brutality of a handful of terrorists to drive us to abandon our core constitutional values. We can effectively combat terrorism in the United States without jettisoning the core due process principles that form the essence of the rule of law underlying our system of government.

Insistence on the rule of law will not undermine our national security. Abandoning the rule of law will threaten our national identity.

Two very brief points:

1. As anyone who reads my post will readily discover, I did not “find[] the concluding paragraphs to represent left-wing extremism.” Rather, I focused on several of the substantive positions taken in the body of the report.

2. Somehow Greenhouse doesn’t see fit to inform her readers that Halligan herself testified that she was “taken aback” by the substance and tone of the report, that one of its positions is “clearly incorrect,” and that it “does not reflect [her] views.” (Whether Halligan’s effort to distance herself from the report is plausible or not is another matter.)

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