Yesterday morning, while preparing for the gym, I flipped on Fox and subjected myself to a few minutes of New York’s Other Senator’s (Charles Schumer) Opening Statement in the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito, Jr. Perhaps it’s not even worthwhile to comment on the remarks of this irrelevant blowhard. As Ed Whelan noted in National Review Online’s Bench Memos, given that this New Yorker “voted against Roberts and has repeatedly distorted Alito’s record, there’s no point in trying to clear the Schumer hurdle.”
This Democrat seemed particularly crabby when reading his remarks, almost like a sullen child complaining to his parents that they won’t let him watch TV (even though he didn’t get the grades they required of him so he could watch TV on a school night). (Ethan thought he “looked like a baby who had a toy taken away.”) That is, Schumer seemed particularly peeved that because President Bush won re-election in 2004 and the Republicans have a majority in Congress, a Republican president gets to appoint Supreme Court justices and the Democratic minority has little chance of blocking them.
While conservatives were upset that President Clinton was elected in 1992, as far as I can recall, no Republican Senator expressed a similar attitude when that Democrat nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a judge with a very liberal record, to the Supreme Court. And this well-known advocate of “abortion rights” was tapped to fill the seat of one of the two Justices to dissent Roe v. Wade a Supreme Court decision the left treats as gospel.
In his unhappy remarks, Schumer said that:
Even under the so-called “Ginsburg precedent” – which was endorsed by Judge Roberts, Republican Senators, and the White House – you have an obligation to answer questions on topics that you have written about.
Schumer thinks that because this good judge had made “blanket statements,” supporting the overturning of Roe, he “cannot use that as a basis for not answering.” Back in 1993 when then-Judge Ginsburg (unbeknownst to her) established her eponymous precedent by not answering questions about cases on which she, as a Supreme Court Justice would be required to rule, no Republican faulted her for not answering despite her previous clearly-expressed views in favor on abortion.
Upset that they are in the minority, Democratic Senators are holding Judge Alito to a higher standard than Republican Senators held President Clinton’s nominees in the 1990s. And although they’re holding the president’s well-qualified nominee to a higher standard, they have repeatedly distorted his record. Powerline and Michelle Malkin, respectively detail how Schumer and Kennedy, two of the loudest critics of this good man, have done so. Peter Kirsanow offers a more comprehensive rebuttal of the standard Democratic mispresentation of the judge’s record (via Confirm Them).)
Instead of following the traditional Democrat tactic of distorting a well-qualified conservative record, Senate Democrats should follow the lead of Brendan Byrne, the former Democratic Governor of New Jersey who endorsed Alito:
I truly believe that he is by far the best we are going to get from this president and that it would be a grave mistake to turn him down. Those of us who would support a more liberal candidate also lost an election in 2004 and are obliged to think in that context.
Byrne’s fellow Democrats should realize, what Republicans understood in the 1990s: elections have consequences. Despite Democrats’ best efforts, President Bush was re-elected to a second term (with an increased Republican majority in the Senate) and thus gets to appoint Justices to the U.S. Supreme Court when vacancies occur.
This is not to say that Senate Democrats shouldn’t raise questions about a nominees’ qualifications. Indeed, they should. Questioning his qualifications, however, doesn’t give them license to change the rules of the game which benefited them when they were in power, but seem to work against their agenda now that they are in the minority. Further, they should honestly evaluate his record, not twist his rulings out of context nor misstate his record in order to paint him in an unfavorable light. And they should not consider filibustering (via Ace) his nomination.
Well, that is, unless Democrats want to convince the American people that, even with the Republicans’ faults, they are not competent to run Congress.
Senator Schumer should be grateful for the MSM’s liberal bias. If a conservative Senator tried to hold a Democratic Supreme Court nominee to a higher standard (than he held Republican nominees), MSM outlets across the land would castigate him for his partisan hypocrisy. But, MSM don’t pay much attention to Democratic double standards. And it seems that most conservatives are largely ignoring him* as he makes himself increasingly irrelevant.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
*Paul Zummo of Confirm Them having heard more of Schumer’s remarks than I, offers his thoughts here. Zummo observes the New Yorker seemed particularly fond of the word “extreme.” The folks at Powerline offer some thoughts on Schumer’s contention that the Ginsburg rule doesn’t apply to Judge Alito.
INTERESTING ADDENDUM: My junior-year college roommate finds common ground between Judge Alito & Justice Louis Brandeis.