In a pretty silly column in the New York Daily News, New York’s other Senator, Charles Schumer, suggests that President Bush convene a summit with senators from both parties where participants “would roll up their sleeves, loosen their ties and have a serious discussion about potential nominees” for the Supreme Court. (Hat tip: Powerline.) Schumer notes that when he was president, Bill Clinton “consulted regularly with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the lead Republican on the Judiciary Committee at the time.” And he suggests that the current president “consult meaningfully with senators of both parties to arrive at a consensus nominee, not only because the Constitution contemplates it.”
I’m not sure where Mr. Schumer gets this notion that the Constitution “contemplates” a “consensus nominee.” To be sure, the federal constitution stipulates that when the president appoints “Judges of the Supreme Court” he shall do so with “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” And as this morning’s Los Angeles Times reports, he is indeed seeking the advice of the Senate, even that of the Senate’s minority party, Mr. Schumer’s party. The president and his chief counsel, Harriet Miers, have talked with a number of Senators. President Bush himself has a breakfast meeting yesterday “four Senate leaders: Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and the committee’s senior Democrat, Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).”
Democrats and their allies in the MSM have worked themselves into a lather about the vacancy on the Supreme Court, demanding that the president pick a consensus nominee. Or, by suggesting (without any evidence from the authors of the Constitution or its advocates at the time of ratification) that our founding charter “contemplates” a process whereby the president can’t pick someone the minority party doesn’t like. Well, I will only take those Democrats (and their allies) seriously who can point to statements they made to the same effect the last two times we had vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court, back when we had a Democratic president (Bill Clinton) and a Democratic Senate (in 1993 and 1994).
Did Mr. Schumer suggest such a “summit” back then? After all, Justice Byron White, who retired in 1993, while appointed by a Democratic president (John F. Kennedy), often sided with the “conservative bloc” on the court. By appointing a liberal former ACLU attorney, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Clinton shifted the balance on the court to the left. I don’t recall any Republican Senators suggesting such a “summit.” Indeed, only three Republican Senators opposed Mrs. Ginsburg’s nomination.
And finally, in 1993 and 1994, did President Clinton consult with Republican Senators, then in the minority, as President Bush has consulted Democratic Senators? The Los Angeles Times reports that the president and Ms. Miers have met with and spoken with a number of Democratic Senators. And even though this Republican president has reached out to Democratic Senators to a greater extent than President Clinton then reached out to the Senate’s minority party over a decade ago, I daresay that once the president announces his nominee, the Democrats and their media allies will pitch a fit and attack the president for failing to take their advice. I hope I’m wrong.
Let me remind these Democrats that when Constitution stipulates the president shall seek the advice of the Senate when considering judicial nominations, it gives him the power to appoint judges. As the president has shown respect for his constitutional obligation to seek their advice, let us hope that Senate Democrats acknowledge his power of appointment.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com