Bench Memos

Those “Thoughtful and Considerate” Senate Democrats

In the course of his Washington Post column today highlighting that President Obama “has a good shot at setting” modern records for “fewest numbers of judicial nominees” and “fewest number of judges placed on the bench” during the first two years of a presidency, Al Kamen injects a bizarre parenthetical sentence into this passage:

One might argue that Obama nominated fewer people because he started with far fewer judicial vacancies than did Clinton or Bush. (Credit for that goes to Senate Democrats, an especially thoughtful and considerate lot, who were determined to confirm as many conservative judges as possible during the last months of the Bush presidency.)

In fact, the Senate confirmed only fourteen judicial nominees in the last half of 2008.  All fourteen were district-court nominees, whom Kamen, later in his column (and in the very different context of discussing Republicans letting nominees go through), says “don’t count for much.”  Further, it’s far from clear to me that any of the fourteen could fairly be described as conservative.  On the contrary, at least three—Anthony Trenga, Mary Scriven, and former Clinton nominee Christine Arguello—had strong Democratic connections and were instances of evident outright White House capitulation to Democratic senators.

Perhaps Kamen means to be facetious in referring to Senate Democrats, who adopted unprecedented measures of obstruction of President Bush’s judicial nominees, as “an especially thoughtful and considerate lot,” but the context would surely lead the reader to think otherwise.

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