It's understandable that the Democrats would want to run down the clock on confirming judges in the last months of the Bush administration. But for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to make and then break a promise to confirm three judges before Memorial Day is just dishonorable.
National Review Online praises Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for holding Reid accountable, quoting McConnell's blunt criticism:
At the beginning of this Congress, the Majority said it would meet or exceed the average of 17 circuit court nominees that have been confirmed in prior Congresses; yet it has only confirmed eight circuit court judges thus far. More disturbing, the Chairman of the Committee recently threatened to shut down the confirmation process completely, an action that would break yet another historical precedent.
The Majority said it would treat Republican senate delegations fairly; yet for months, the Democratic Majority has only worked on circuit court nominees from states with a Democratic senator.
The Majority said it would do its ‘utmost,’ said it would do ‘everything’ possible, said it would do ‘everything within its power’ to confirm three more circuit court nominees by the Memorial Day recess; yet it only confirmed one nominee. Moreover, it appears the Majority did not seriously attempt to honor its commitment. Indeed, since that deadline passed almost two weeks ago, the Democratic Majority has still failed to confirm more circuit court nominees.
The Democratic Majority has refused to honor its commitments. It apparently believes that commitments do not matter in the United States Senate, and that actions do not have consequences.
McConnell is absolutely right; these nominees deserve an up or down vote. If the Democrats want to vote against confirming them, then at least have the courage and the decency to let their names come to the floor for a vote. These nominees are not legal abstractions. They're people who have put their professional lives on hold and subjected themselves to all sorts of investigations and vetting -- all because they believe in the rule of law and calling of public service.
Reid and his cohorts can vote down every single Bush judicial nominee, if they like. But they won't -- they'll just let these nominees languish in committee, because they lack the guts to actually vote on the record. What a bunch of sissies.