2-22-16 – Pat Leahy’s Supreme Hypocrisy

by John McClaughry

The battle is on over the replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died a week ago.  Scalia was the anchor of the five Justices who in most cases stuck to interpreting the Constitution instead of cheerfully approving every law or action. I should note that two of those five, Roberts and Kennedy, are distressingly inconsistent in carrying out that duty. But the four serving Justices appointed by Democrats are rock solid on the politically liberal side of issues that come before the court, regardless of what the Constitution actually says and in one notorious case, regardless of what Obama’s Affordable Care act plainly said.

Another Obama appointment like his previous two would, if confirmed, create a predictably liberal court for the next thirty years.

A Republican Senate probably wouldn’t confirm any nomination that met Obama’s standards – that is, dependably left wing. The Republicans are saying that the new president should have the chance to appoint a justice to the evenly divided court, informed by the results of the November election. The Democrats are shrieking that the Republican Senate must vote on whoever Barack Obama nominates, now, before the election.

The Democrats’ position is exactly one hundred and eighty degrees away from the position they took in 2007, the final year of the George W. Bush presidency. Then they refused to consider any Bush judicial appointments in his last year and a half in office.

Among those urging immediate confirmation of whoever Obama appoints is Sen. Patrick Leahy.  Leahy, a long time chair of Senate Judiciary, is now saying that it is cowardly for the Republicans to put off a Supreme Court nomination, and that “It would be a sheer dereliction of duty for the Senate not to have a hearing, not to have a vote.”

I have a personal grudge about Leahy’s shameless hypocrisy on this issue. He and his pals stalled off the nomination of a brilliant potential justice, Miguel Estrada, solely because they couldn’t allow a Republican president to appoint the first Hispanic justice.

For fourteen months Leahy and pals stalled the Circuit court nomination of San Diego law professor Bernard Siegan, incidentally a friend of mine, just because had made the mistake of believing that the Constitution protects property rights.

Worst of all Patrick Leahy, Joe Biden and Teddy Kennedy led the utterly disgraceful attack on another friend of mine, Clarence Thomas, because they could not allow a black conservative on the Supreme Court. Happily, Clarence survived what he called a “high tech lynching”, was confirmed 52 to 48, and has served on the Court for twenty five years.

I understand that others have different political views from mine, but Patrick Leahy’s shabby and blatantly hypocritical  record on judicial nominations is simply, to me, unforgivable.

John McClaughry is the founder and vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John McClaughry February 26, 2016 at 10:22 pm

In the commentary above I criticized the hypocrisy of Democrats in the US Senate for demanding that the Republican Senate must vote on President Obama’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy before the election. The Democrats’ hypocrisy arises because, I said, in 2007, near the end of the second Bush term, the Democrats “refused to consider any Bush judicial appointments in his last year and a half in office.”
One reader pointed out to me that Senate Democrats did not refuse to consider George W. Bush judicial appointments in his last year and a half in office. That is quite correct, and I was careless in offering that conclusion.
My reference was to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, a leading member of the Judiciary Committee. He gave a speech in 2007 that emphatically said that the Senate should not consider any new Bush Supreme Court appointments. The Republicans are calling this the Schumer Standard, and evidence of Democratic hypocrisy. (VP Joe Biden took the same position when chairing Judiciary in 1992.)
However there were no additional Bush Supreme Court nominees, Schumer did not call for stalling Bush lower court appointments, and in fact five appellate judges and dozens of district judges were subsequently confirmed without dissenting votes. I should have said “any Supreme Court appointments”, not “any judicial appointments”.


Jim Bulmer February 27, 2016 at 3:50 pm

You see, these are different times. The Dems no longer control the senate and Mr. Leahy, Joe Biden, and Schumer have to eat their words as distasteful as that may be. John is 100% correct. If Obama puts another roaring liberal who uses “life experiences rather than the Constitution in making judgments” such a Sotomayor this nation is headed for a socialist society the likes of which the folks could never imagine. Mitch McConnell and his colleagues are right on!!!!!!!!!


Hugh Hermann March 1, 2016 at 2:50 pm

I agree 100% with John and Jim!


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