...get a silly answer. Or, at least, ask the wrong question and get an answer that doesn't illuminate. Today's example is the Associated Press story Poll: Most Want Thorough Check of Judges, by Will Lester. In it Lester notes that an astonishing 78% want "the Senate to thoroughly examine the president's nominees to be federal judges."
The poll found 78 percent believe the Senate should take an "assertive role" examining judicial nominees. Whether people prefer conservative judges or liberal judges, most want the Senate to closely examine judicial nominees.
"I'm probably more on the conservative side, but I think the Senate should closely look at each nominee," said Heidi Densel, a Republican from Fort Wayne, Ind.
Democrat Carol Zebott of Duluth, Minn., said she wants the Senate to examine Bush's judicial choices because "I just think he has been making a lot of bad decisions lately."
Well, this entire story is absurd, because the question is not whether appointees to federal judicial positions should be scrutinized by the Senate before they are confirmed - they should. The question is whether a minority of Senators, 41 should be allowed to block a confirmation vote from even taking place after that scrutiny has occurred.
Even with the rule change that the Republicans in the Senate may make next week, judicial nominees will still have to:
- Be looked at by the President and his team and satisfy them that the judge is qualified
- Be examined thoroughly in the Senate Judiciary Committee
- Pass muster in that committee by majority vote
- Be further examined and debated if necessary by all Senators before a vote for confimation is taken
- Be confirmed for their position only if a majority of all Senators agree
I'm not sure where Mr. Lester learned his civics, but changing the number of votes necessary for confirmation from 60 to 51 is not akin to buying the auto without kicking the tires. What it does do is remove the ability of the minority to insist that judges agree with them on several litmus test issues, which is really what this is about.
Meanwhile the underhanded MSM meme is that Republicans are insisting that the nominees to be confirmed without that kick of the tires. It's just not true. If there is something odious in a judge's background or judicial decision process then bring it out. But Democrats know that if there was a problem like that these nominees would never have been rated so highly, in almost all cases, by the ABA.
UPDATE: Will Franklin has some nifty graphical representations that help to demonstrate the data while dramatically reducing the verbiage.
UPDATE: Submitted to COTT XII