I hate to disagree with NRO’s Byron York, who does great reporting on judges, but chalk this up as a very friendly and respectful, uh, alternative view to York’s column today, a column that effectively downplays the Democrats’ success at blocking judicial nominees and the GOP’s failures to get judges confirmed. York keeps trumpeting the supposed 87% success rate for GOP nominees, but misses the most important context: That seemingly acceptable success rate is built mostly on the basis of confirmations for district court judges, while the confirmation rate for the far more important (in terms of national policy) appeals court judges is far worse. Only 43 circuit court judges have been confirmed in more than five years of the Bush presidency. Two of those were holdover Clinton nominees (including the at least semi-controversial Roger Gregory) who Bush renominated as a gesture of goodwill — a gesture that clearly has gone unrewarded. Kuhl, Estrada, Saad, and Pickering were harrassed into withdrawing. Myers, Haynes, and apparently Boyle are in limbo. Susan Nielson was confirmed after a sickeningly petty delay only when it became clear she was ill; she died shortly thereafter. In Alabama, magistrate judge William Steele was harrassed into being withdrawn from an appeals court nomination and then okayed for a district court judgeship instead. (The good news is that the slot was eventually filled by the wonderful Bill Pryor, but only after incredibly strenuous efforts on Pryor’s behalf by the conservative movement.) (Also withdrawn was Fourth Circuit nominee Claude Allen, who now is troubled but whose record at the time showed no hint of any wrongdoing.) The Dems are threatening a filibuster of Wallace of Mississippi. And the delays have apparently enervated the White House, because ten slots remain without any nominees put forth by Bush at all, including five official “judicial emergencies,” two of which have been vacant since the year 2000!!!! In all, as somebody pointed out just a few weeks ago, the Republican Senate under a Republican president has confirmed fewer appeals court nominees than the Republican Senate did under Democrat Bill Clinton.
This is not a record for the GOP to brag about — but it is a record that should please the smearmeisters of the Democratic Party like Kennedy and Schumer and Leahy.