Sen. Patrick Leahy’s moment has arrived. After years of treating the Republicans courteously, only to have them torpedo almost all of the hundreds of candidates he has proposed as either chairman or ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he now has the possibility of eliminating the appointments logjam created by them for the last decade and a half. Nation writer Normal Schwartz, in “Obama’s Federal Judiciary Failures,” points out that during the first Obama administration, 26 more seats were vacated and left unfilled, creating an officially declared “state of emergency.”
Sen. Leahy wisely refused to abandon the committee chairmanship for a more coveted one; clearly, he sees what has to be done to restore the judiciary to sufficient strength. I hope he keeps in mind the four years of willful and malicious obstruction the Senate Republicans have exercised, and I hope he recognizes it as having been their standard operating procedure since the days of Bush 41. He has always been fair and courteous to them and rarely received the reciprocity one expects from colleagues of a different party, because they are committed to appointing hacks to office (e.g., Harriet Miers and Alberto Gonzales). May Sen. Leahy make a difference this time.
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