Bench Memos

Richard Cohen

has good days and bad days, and today is one of the latter.

He has written about the judicial filibuster before giving the matter any thought. He presents as fact several highly contested claims. He says, for example, that Alberto Gonzales accused Priscilla Owen of “unconscionable judicial activism.” Gonzales plausibly denies that his remark was aimed at her. (Less plausibly, he denies that it was aimed at Nathan Hecht, a fellow Texas supreme court justice at the time. Greg Abbott, another colleague, dances around this issue on our home page.) Cohen suggests twice that Republicans are planning to get rid of the filibuster entirely, which is untrue.

Cohen suggests that all seven filibustered nominees are “extreme” and “Odious,” which not even the Democrats say about all seven. (Some of them are being blocked as payback for Republican judge-blocking under Clinton.) And he “reasons,” essentially, that they must be extreme since the Democrats are blocking them.

Then there’s this weird Cohenism: “Senate Republicans [are] as ignorant of cinema history as they are determined to roll over the minority Democrats.” This comes after Cohen has written about how Mr. Smith Goes to Washington introduced Americans to the glories of the filibuster. Does he really think that Republicans are unfamiliar with the movie? Or that the movie makes an airtight case for filibusters? Or for filibusters of judges? Does he think at all before he types?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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