Gauging the Nuclear Fallout
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Just where did the Gang of 14 get their list of "pending and future judicial nominations in the 109th Congress," to which they referred in the opening paragraph of their "Memorandum of Understanding on Judicial Nominations" on Monday evening? What criteria did they use to determine if a nomination was "pending"? If a nominee did not meet their "pending" criteria, was he or she then automatically placed in the category of "future judicial nominations"?
The criteria matter because there appears to be no discernible or consistent pattern for including a prospective judge in the "pending" category. The criteria also matter because there is every indication that the criteria's evidently intentional ambiguity was exploited in a bipartisan way by the Gang of 14 in order to camouflage the fact that the seven Democrats cleaned the political clocks of their seven Republican colleagues.
As the self-appointed trustees of Senate tradition, the senators conspired on Monday to torpedo the nuclear option, which would have banned all judicial filibusters. One explanation for what appears to be an overwhelming Democratic victory within can be found in the fact that, notwithstanding the senators' ostensibly even partisan make-up, the steadfastly anti-nuclear-option faction actually comprised 11 Republicans, not seven.
In a subsection of the memo -"Part I: Commitment on Pending Judicial Nominations" - the senators specifically refer to five nominees. For three of these five so-called "pending" nominees (Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor), the gang committed themselves to permitting an up-or-down confirmation vote on the Senate floor. For the other two (William Myers III and Henry Saad) of the five "pending" nominees, the gang made no such commitment.
Again, what were the criteria? The delimiting criterion could not have been the fact that a "pending" nominee was simply someone who had been nominated by Mr. Bush during the 109th Congress. In fact, there have been 12 circuit-court nominations so far. …