Los Angeles Times smears GOP as obstructionist 

The Los Angeles Times has a story up today on Obama's judicial appointments, or the lack thereof:

For Obama judicial nominees, confirmation is slow process

Senate Republicans have quietly used their minority power to block candidates to the lower federal courts. A showdown is set for Tuesday with Judge David Hamilton's nomination

That pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the article, which might as well be a Democratic press release. Take these paragraphs:

 

But liberal activists have voiced growing irritation that Republicans are quietly using their minority power to block Senate votes on Obama's judicial nominees. They note that during the Bush administration, Republicans insisted the president's nominees deserved up-or-down votes.

"This has become more bitter and more partisan than the Clinton years. It is obstructionism across the board," said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, an association of environmental, civil rights and consumer advocacy organizations.

The reporter is credulously repeating the claim of "liberal activists" that "during the Bush administration, Republicans insisted the president's nominees deserved up-or-down votes," as if that actually means something. Late in Bush's second term, the President had a backlog of 190+ nominations -- including many, many judicial appointments -- that Democrats were stonewalling. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled petty procedural tricks such as keeping the Senate in session over Thanksgiving to prevent the President from making recess appointments.

But that was when government was divided. Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in the senate, and somehow it's the Republicans' fault the confirmation process is slow? I have no doubt senate Republicans have tried to block certain nominations -- but they also approved a supreme court justice with minimal fuss early this year. They are not being particularly obstructionist despite what the Los Angeles Times would have you believe. In fact, this startling fact was mentioned in the New York Times just the day before:

[Bush] had already nominated 28 appellate and 36 district candidates at a comparable point in his tenure. By contrast, Mr. Obama has offered 12 nominations to appeals courts and 14 to district courts.

Explains a lot, doesn't it? Given the Stimulus, health care, Sotomayor's confirmation and plethora of controversies on with major Obama appointees, it's pretty obvious that the Senate's attention and priorities have been somewhere other than run-of-the-mill judicial nominees. To be fair, the second to last of 27 paragraphs in the story reads: "Obama's pace of nominating judges is also slower than previous presidents'." But that addition is less an attempt at balance but a last minute example of editorial damage control. And as if this weren't bad enough, the Los Angeles Times then goes on to suggest that GOP objections to the nomination of an ACORN fundraiser to the federal bench is somehow an example of their unreasonable obstructionism, because, well, "liberal advocates scoffed at the notion that [the judge] was extreme or out of the mainstream." Now forgive me for scoffing that the Los Angeles Times is the one outside of the mainstream of journalistic objectivity.

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Mark Hemingway

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