It is hard to feel sorry for the Obama Administration over their claims that Republicans have created excessive delays for judicial confirmations, particularly in regard to the D.C. Circuit.
It may be true that the Senate has been slow in confirming President Obama’s picks to the federal bench. And it may even be true that the Senate has failed to confirm some qualified nominees. But this is simply liberal chickens coming home to roost.
Democrats opened the floodgates to partisan fighting over judicial nominees when they used outrageous tactics to stop Robert Bork from being appointed to the Supreme Court in 1987. Bork was one of the most qualified nominees to the Court in our lifetimes — he was a judge on the D.C. Circuit, a former solicitor general, and a distinguished legal scholar. His contributions to legal thinking in the fields of both antitrust law and constitutional interpretation were profound. Democrats, led by Senator Ted Kennedy, opposed him purely on ideological grounds, because they rejected Bork’s theory of interpreting the Constitution according to the original intent of the Framers.
By stopping Bork, liberals turned the judicial confirmation process away from qualifications and toward politics. Liberals have continued to oppose Republican nominees for both the Supreme Court (remember the Roberts and Alito hearings) and the lower courts (recall the meritless opposition to Miguel Estrada for the D.C. Circuit) solely on the grounds of ideology ever since. They thus have no standing to complain about the treatment of Obama’s picks until they “confess error,” as they say at the Supreme Court, and concede that their opposition to Bork was a mistake. When they begin to consider Republican nominees solely on their merits, we can start returning the favor.