An editorial in today’s Washington Post calls on the Senate to act quickly on President Bush’s nominees to the Fourth Circuit. But as PFAW Legal Director Judith E. Schaeffer pointed out in a Letter to the Editor, the Post has ignored serious concerns that make these nominees very controversial, and the Senate should not rush to confirm them. You can read that letter below:
To the Editor:
The December 27 editorial urging the Senate to act quickly on President Bush’s pending nominees to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (“A Court in Need”) ignores serious concerns that make these nominations controversial. Steve Matthews, for example, a lawyer in private practice in South Carolina, served for years on the board of the Landmark Legal Foundation, which in February 2007 nominated Rush Limbaugh for the Nobel Peace Prize, calling him “the foremost advocate for freedom and democracy in the world today.” Robert Conrad, a district court judge in North Carolina, has a disturbing record on a number of issues, including reproductive freedom, the environment, and workers’ rights. He has criticized Sister Helen Prejean’s acclaimed work, Dead Man Walking, as “liberal drivel.”
The Post‘s insistence that the Senate “should act in good faith” to fill the vacancies falsely suggests that it has been acting otherwise on judicial nominations. In fact, under the leadership of Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy, the Senate in the past session alone has confirmed 40 judicial nominees, far more than were confirmed by the Republican-led Senate in 1996 during Bill Clinton’s presidency. While we have not agreed with all of those confirmations, no one can argue that Senate Democrats are dragging their feet on President Bush’s nominees. But vacancies should be filled only by those qualified to serve for life on the federal bench. There are many good reasons to be concerned about President Bush’s nominees to the Fourth Circuit, and none that justifies a rush to confirm them.
Judith E. Schaeffer
People For the American Way