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Feminists attack judicial nomination process

By John Nowacki
web posted December 17, 2001

All this year, liberals have been signaling to anyone who will listen that no matter how qualified President Bush's judicial nominees are, if they don't appear willing to rule the way the leftists want, those nominations are doomed to fail. A conference call between feminist groups and their supporters ought to concern anyone who believes that judges should be fair and impartial, not adherents to some political agenda.

The National Organization for Women, the Ms. Foundation, and other groups held a meeting via telephone recently, discussing ways to provide cover for Democrats to refuse confirmation for nominees who fail their ideological litmus test. After months of blocking nominations and professing to be "fair," Democrats are finally ready to start giving judicial nominees the same treatment they gave John Ashcroft.

According to the Washington Times, the participants are beginning a campaign against specific nominees, coordinating with Democrat Senators and gearing up for a "nasty and contentious" fight. Letter-writing campaigns, visits to newspaper editorial boards, and press conferences are all part of the strategy.

Amazingly, the groups also criticized the American Bar Association's reviews of judicial nominees, which already skew to the left. For the feminists, the problem is that the reviews ostensibly rate a nominee's legal qualifications, and not his "stand on choice or temperament."

Democrats have already been prepped to use ideological litmus tests on nominees. At their caucus retreat early this year, at the hearing Charles Schumer held to justify those tests, and at his follow-up hearing on shifting the burden of proof in a confirmation to the nominee, they've set the stage for the "nasty and contentious" fight that the leftist groups are looking forward to.

Liberals like to describe the ideal nominee as "mainstream." Since anyone who disagrees with them is an "extremist," this means they are looking for nominees who share their beliefs; nominees who are judicial activists.

Instead of following the law to an end result, they'd like judges to have an end result in mind and twist the law in whatever way will get them there--as long as it's a result that coincides with their political agenda.

President Bush takes the opposite approach. "Every judge I appoint will be a person who clearly understands the role of a judge is to interpret the law, not to legislate from the bench," he said while introducing his first nominees. "To paraphrase . . . James Madison, the courts exist to exercise not the will of men, but the judgment of law. My judicial nominees will know the difference."

That's the approach that values judges who will be fair, impartial, and who will follow the law. And that is what's threatened by the leftists' campaign for judges whose ideology matches their own.

Conservatives in the Senate and the grassroots have their work cut out for them. The question is, are they up to it?

John Nowacki is the deputy director of the Center for Law and Democracy at the Free Congress Foundation.

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