Senators’ ability to fully consider President Bush’s judicial nominations is already under attack by Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch. Hatch has tossed aside longstanding rules and abandoned bipartisan agreements in the Senate in an effort to steamroll Bush’s nominees through to the floor. Hatch has been a key player in the effort to undermine the minority party’s ability to provide any meaningful check on the administration’s attempts to stack the courts and is leading the charge against the filibuster.
Judy Ettenhofer of The Capital Times pointed out on February 10, 2003, “Already, the GOP has used a tactic of scheduling multiple hearings on nominees at the same time, thereby ensuring the Democrats can’t closely question each candidate.” The New York Times reported on May 5, 2003, “In the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Hatch has been using suspect tactics to push through unsuitable candidates. Last week, the committee considered James Leon Holmes, an anti-abortion activist who has written that women must place themselves under the authority of men. When he had trouble winning a majority, Mr. Hatch broke with tradition and had the committee vote to send the nomination to the floor without a recommendation.” Four days later, The Palm Beach Post echoed this concern, “Judiciary committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, fumes about rules, yet he ended the privilege of home-state senators blocking nominees because he wanted Mr. Bush’s picks to advance.”