Another showdown over judicial nominations is looming on the horizon. In 2006, President Bush nominated Peter Keisler to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and renewed the nomination earlier this year. Keisler is eminently qualified for a seat on the Court, but Senate Democrats may oppose his confirmation nonetheless. As The Hill reports:
The judge's liberal critics acknowledge that he has excellent legal credentials, but charge that he has shown no commitment to advancing civil rights or environmental and worker protections. They are also suspicious of his role as co-founder of the Federalist Society, a bastion of conservative jurisprudence.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) last week hinted that Democrats would block Keisler's nomination.
There is little to challenge in Keisler's record, as he has distinguished himself in both private practice and government service -- so his opponents will instead insist that the Administration has been too slow, or too unwilling, to release documents that bear on Keisler's fitness for the bench.
Last year, liberal groups filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for documents related to Keisler's time in the administration. Although the Reagan Library has cleared the records for public release, the White House has withheld them from dissemination.
"Unless those records are publicly disclosed, the Senate Judiciary Committee lacks the information to consider someone to lifetime appointment to the second-most important court in our country," said Judith Schaeffer, the legal director of People for the American Way, a group that has led opposition to Bush nominees.
In my opinion, Keisler deserves confirmation on the merits. I also believe Senate Democrats should begin to consider how they would like Democratic judicial nominees to be treated in the future, and set an example. This would be a welcome step toward a de-escalation in judicial nomination fights -- a step the next President (whomever he or she is) might appreciate.
Related Posts (on one page):
- The Case for Senate Consideration of the Ideology of Judicial Nominees:
- Judicial Nomination Fights -- Past and Present:
- Another Judicial Nomination Fight: