Bush slams unfair Senate review of judicial nominees

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush on Thursday criticized the Senate's judicial confirmation process as overzealous and said the legislature's constitutional mandate to "advise and consent" can be turned into a method by which to "search and destroy" a nominee's reputation. In a speech [text] Thursday evening at the 2007 National Lawyers Convention [event information] hosted by the Federalist Society [website], Bush said:

Unfortunately, the Senate has failed to act on many of my other nominees. At times it has imposed a new and extra-constitutional standard, where nominees who have the support of the majority of the Senate can be blocked by a minority of obstructionists. As a result, some judgeships go unfulfilled for years. This leads to what are called "judicial emergencies" -- vacancies that cause justice to be degraded or delayed. When Americans goes to court, they deserve swift and fair answers -- and the United States Senate should not stand in their way.

Three of my nominees to the Courts of Appeals have been waiting for a vote for more than a year. ... These delays are wrong. It is an abdication of the Senate's responsibilities under our Constitution. And I call on Senate leaders to give these nominees, and all my nominees, the up and down vote they deserve on the floor of the United States Senate.

Senate confirmation is a part of the Constitution's systems of checks and balances. But it was never intended to be a license to ruin the good name that a nominee has worked a lifetime to build. Today, good men and women nominated to the federal bench are finding that inside the Beltway, too many interpret "advise and consent" to mean "search and destroy."

As a result, the Senate is no longer asking the right question -- whether a nominee is someone who will uphold our Constitution and laws. Instead, nominees are asked to guarantee specific outcomes of cases that might come before the court. If they refuse -- as they should -- they often find their nomination ends up in limbo instead of on the Senate floor. This is a terrible way to treat people who have agreed to serve their nation. It's a sad commentary on the United States Senate. And every time it happens, we lose something as a constitutional democracy.
AP has more.

 

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