This New York Times story tells us the following…
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats and the White House moved ahead Wednesday with a compromise to break a years-long impasse over approving judges for the federal appeals court based in Ohio.The court in question is the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, by the way.
But Senate Republicans seemed markedly unenthusiastic about the plan as the Judiciary Committee held hearings on two nominees to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit who are at the heart of the compromise. One nominee is Helene N. White, a liberal Democratic candidate originally put forward by President Bill Clinton, while the other is Raymond M. Kethledge, a conservative Republican chosen by the Bush White House.So let me get this straight; the Repugs would end up with a 9-7 majority on the court if the deal goes through (as the story states), with White the Dem and Kethledge the GOP choice…and the Senate “Roadblock Republicans” are STILL unhappy??
One effect of the compromise would be to cement Republican conservative control of the court for the foreseeable future no matter who is elected president.
It would seem so; the Times story tells us…
(Senate) Committee Republicans criticized the plan, saying it would allow the Democrats to shut down the confirmation process before other Bush appeals court nominees could be considered. They also made plain that they disapproved of Judge White, although their reasons for doing so were less clear. Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, criticized some of Judge White’s rulings as a state judge.I haven’t been able to determine exactly what rulings Our Man Arlen was wondering about, but from this story, we know he asked about the following…
"Did you ever get a (tax) bill that you didn't pay for a protracted period of time?" Specter asked White.Yeah, Arlen, you meanie – whaddaya wanna know next, the results of Judge White’s last visit to her gynecologist?
She answered, "I paid what I believed to be my taxes at the time. And if it turns out it's not correct, then I'll pay whatever I'm supposed to pay."
Specter launched into White's driving record, which she said includes speeding.
Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy jumped in and said if no one could be a judge or U.S. senator because they've speeded "there's going to be a pretty darned empty chamber around here if that is the standard."
Specter also hammered White on rulings that were overturned by a higher court, and forced her to acknowledge she doesn't have direct experience on what Specter termed "front-line issues" that federal appeals courts are dealing with -- such as whether the executive branch has overreached in trying to combat terrorism.
"There's always a 'first time' with any subject matter. The question is how the judge approaches it," White said of her Michigan state-focused resume.
Leahy jumped in and questioned one of the other three Michigan judicial appointees -- Raymond M. Kethledge -- to make the point that White was not the only candidate without judicial experience on high-stakes federal issues.
The Detroit News story tells us that this deal was the result of moving around another judge in addition to White and Kethledge…
As part of the deal announced last month, White and Kethledge, a Troy (MI) attorney, were nominated to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.And the Times tells us the following about the Sixth Circuit court…
The nomination of Stephen Murphy, a Detroit U.S. attorney, to the appeals court was withdrawn to open space for White. Instead, Murphy was nominated to the U.S. District Court in Detroit (with White and Kethledge then receiving nominations for the Sixth Circuit).
The court, one of 13 regional appeals courts just below the level of the Supreme Court, hears cases from Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan. It is widely recognized as the most fractious appeals court in the nation as its judges not only regularly split along partisan lines but also have often used opinions to criticize the integrity of their opponents on the court.Sounds like a nice bunch; I guess a “fractious” confirmation process was to be expected, then. Of course, what would be REALLY funny is if the whole deal goes up in smoke, a Dem wins the White House in November, and then two Dem judges are nominated with the potential to deadlock the court at 8-8 and thus remove the one-member Repug advantage.
So you go, Arlen – keep “putting a match” to this thing, if you will (and by the way, we’re still waiting to hear about that book deal.)