Patrick Leahy's obstructionism.(EDITORIALS)

Article excerpt

Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Congratulations to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Democrat from the great state of Vermont, population 608,827, give or take a few registered Holsteins. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the day President Bush sent Congress his first 11 judicial nominees for the U.S. circuit courts of appeal. Despite rocky going in those early weeks, back when it looked as if the nominees might actually be donning their robes with ease (remember that pesky Republican Senate majority?), Mr. Leahy has successfully staunched the flow of judges to the federal bench.

Some of the credit must go to "Independent"-minded Sen. James Jeffords, also from Vermont. It was Mr. Jeffords' almost year-old defection from the GOP that tipped the Senate to the Democrats in the first place, empowering Mr. Leahy as chairman. Thanks to Mr. Leahy, only three of those original nominees have been confirmed - and two of them were Democrats the White House was offering as tokens of political peace. The other eight haven't even been scheduled for a hearing.

That should teach the White House a thing or two. Actually, this whole year should have been one long learning curve, culminating in the appalling crack-up in March of Judge Charles W. Pickering's nomination. In the two months since Mr. Pickering's rejection by committee Democrats, Mr. Bush has spoken out about the process more than in the preceding 10 months. Last week, he accused the Senate, through inaction, of "endangering the administration of justice in America. I call on Senate Democrats," he said, "to end the vacancy crisis in our federal courts by restoring fairness to the judicial confirmation process. …