Friday, May 20, 2005

GOP Blocked Judicial Nominees While in Minority

GOP Blocked Judicial Nominees While in Minority
by DavidNYC
Daily Kos
Fri May 20th, 2005 at 01:55:32 PDT
One claim the GOP likes to make is that they were justified in blocking many of Clinton's judicial nominees in the 90s because they were in the majority in Congress. Dems should now be supine, they say, because the right comparison to make is with the Senate Republicans in the first two years of Clinton's first term, when they were in the minority - and as docile as can be.

Only problem is, that story isn't true. Even when the Democrats held a 56-44 advantage in the Senate in 1993 & 1994, the Republicans still tried to stop nominees they didn't like. Here's a tale about one of them.

In 1993, Larry LaRocco, then a Democratic Congressman from Idaho, suggested to Bill Clinton that attorney John Tait be nominated to fill a vacant federal district judgeship in the state. The following year, Clinton went ahead and put Tait's name forward.

But GOP Sen. Larry Craig (and his former Idaho colleague Dirk Kempthorne) were irked about being left out of the process - usually senators get to advise presidents about judicial nominees, but because they were Republicans, they got passed over in favor of LaRocco. Primarily, of course, they were pissed about a Democrat (Tait) getting the nod.

So what did the aggrieved Idaho senators do? Did they just take their lumps and quietly lie down? Hardly:

Two months ago, U.S. Sens. Larry Craig and Dirk Kempthorne successfully blocked Tait's confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Lewiston Morning Tribue, 12/14/1994

Orrin Hatch, then the ranking member of the judiciary committee, prevented Tait from getting a vote at Craig & Kempthorne's request. When the GOP took over Congress in November of that year, Tait's nomination was permanently dead. Tait, by the way, was rated as qualified by the American Bar Association.

I'm sorry for the lack of links - this story is just a bit too old to have made it on to the web. (Though if you have access to Lexis, you can easily confirm all the details.) But in fact, this is something the Republicans are relying on - they're trying to rewrite a period of history (as they often do) that's just a little bit beyond the edges of recent memory. Of course, we won't let them - and we'll remind them that while the GOP thwarted nominees for crass partisan reasons even when they were in the minority, we are currently only exercising our perogative in order to block a tiny handful of the very worst candidates.