Conservative Rhetoric Meets Hard Cold Facts

February 3rd, 2006

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The Alito confirmation notwithstanding, we hear a lot of talk out of conservatives about how those in the Senate who have opposed some of the President’s most controversial judicial nominations are “obstructionists.” The conservatives may huff and puff, but as Mark Twain noted, facts are stubborn things.

Since President Bush has taken office, he has had 228 judicial nominees confirmed: two Supreme Court Justices, 42 Circuit Court judges and 184 District Court judges.

The Constitution gives the Senate the power to “Advise and Consent” on judicial nominees. For a group so committed to “original intent,” the President’s allies in the Senate seem to think that our Founding Fathers meant “Advise and Consent” to mean “rubber stamp”. Of the 12,000 Senate Republican votes on Bush judicial nominees, GOP senators have cast a total of six No votes. Six! That’s a record that would make a Soviet Premier blush.

Democrats have been a little more discerning, though still very respectful of the President’s choices. They have cast over 10,000 Yea votes and 500 No votes — that’s a ratio of 95-5% (see attachment). Indeed, 36 Democrats have voted for more than 200 of the President’s 228 judicial nominees — all of whom, we assume are pro-life conservatives “in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.” You’d think with that kind of record, social conservatives would say “thank you.”

Instead of thanks, they have heaped scorn upon Senate Democrats. But their attacks are built on sand. The American Heritage dictionary defines an obstructionist as “one who systematically blocks or delays a process.” A 95% voting record, over 10,000 Yea votes, and more than 200 unanimous votes of support does not exactly meet that definition.

Conservatives say elections have consequences, and they do. The people of the United States elected President Bush, and the same American voters elected some Democrats who offered a lot of “Advice” and gave mostly “Consent.”

Perhaps there are some progressive activists who would like Democrats to consent a little bit less. That’s a fair criticism. But calling them “obstructionist” is simply ridiculous.

Download the attached spreadsheet on how Democratic Senators voted.