Bench Memos

Senator Cornyn on the Mainstream

Senator Cornyn of Texas, who has been a stalwart on judicial nominations, today issued this statement titled “Who’s in the ‘Mainstream’?”:

As the Senate continues its debate on the President’s judicial nominees, liberal interest groups claim that nominees must hold ‘mainstream,’ and not extreme, views. Yet they applied a very different standard to Democrat nominees, than they now apply to Owen, Brown and Pryor.

For example, prior to her service on the federal bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg–a distinguished jurist and liberal favorite–served as general counsel of the ACLU, a liberal organization that has championed the abolition of traditional marriage laws and attacked the Pledge of Allegiance. Before becoming a judge, Ginsburg expressed her belief that traditional marriage laws are unconstitutional, but that prostitution is a constitutional right. She also wrote that the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are discriminatory institutions, that courts must require the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions, and that the age of consent for sexual activity should be lowered to age 12.

Most Americans do not consider these views to be mainstream–yet Senate Republicans and Democrats alike set aside such concerns and approved her nomination to the Supreme Court by a 96-3 vote, less than two months after her nomination was announced. Yet President Bush’s nominees–who do hold views shared by millions of Americans and enjoy the support of a bipartisan majority of senators–suffer vicious attacks and unprecedented obstruction from liberal interest groups and their allies in Congress.

We should all reject this double standard. We should consider nominees on the basis of their qualifications and judicial temperament, not on the basis of some distorted conception of the political ‘mainstream.’ We should examine their commitment to applying the law regardless of their personal beliefs, not the actual content of those beliefs. And we should consider nominees based on the mainstream support of a bipartisan majority of the Senate, rather than the virulent opposition of a partisan minority of senators and extreme interest groups.

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