Lithwick’s New Tune

Last week, Dahlia Lithwick discovered the “vacancy crisis” on the federal bench and urged an end to partisan wrangling over judicial appointments. It wasn’t long ago that she decried Bush efforts to rush judicial nominees through confirmation.  With a Democrat in the White House, Lithwick now laments the “cartoonish” characterizations of legal issues as battles between “good and evil,” but never pauses to consider her own role in this drama as a relentless partisan.  Her articles on the Supreme Court and judicial nominations are filled with outrageous caricatures (along with misrepresetations, distortions, and inaccuracies). She is, after all, one who affectionately referred to Bush nominees as “nut jobs” and was reportedly distraught that Senate Democrats weren’t tougher on Roberts and Alito.  I suspect it won’t be long before she retracts her call for “rigorous” inquiry into the jurisprudential views of judicial nominees at confirmation hearings as well, as she now recognizes judicial nominees “can be bruised for life by this process.”

Dahlia Lithwick’s a good writer, and her reports on Supreme Court oral arguments are often quite fun — particualrly when she doesn’t let her politics get in the way of her reporting.  But it’s hard to take her seriously when she decries the politicization of judicial nominations and whines over open seats on the federal bench.  If she were really so concerned, she might have raised these concerns before, and recognized some principles (beyond her desire for a more “progressive” bench) with which to approach the question of judicial nominations.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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