Ed Meese: Why Can’t Dems Be Polite — Like GOP?

Although former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III was born in Oakland, he now resides in conservative Virginia and might have forgotten the liberal leanings of the Bay Area.

Or he just doesn’t care.

On Tuesday during a packed luncheon for the California Supreme Court at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, the Reagan administration AG went on a tear about the current confirmation process for federal judges, including those nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

He described the process as “trial by ordeal” and said current senators, i.e. Democrats, treat Bush nominees in an “insulting and demeaning manner.” In particular, Meese said, candidates for the court are wrongly accused of being evasive when they won’t answer questions on issues that might come before the court.

The 74-year-old, who’s now the chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, called that an “attack on judicial independence” never envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

“The Senate was not to be a separate power of appointment,” he said, “but to be a check [on the president’s authority].”

In a less-than-subtle snipe at the Democrats, Meese complained about Reagan’s failed 1987 attempt to get Robert Bork — whom he called “possibly one of the most qualified candidates ever” — on the high court. And he insisted that Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer were never savaged by the Republicans, being approved by overwhelming margins.

In fact, he said, Ginsburg was “treated very kindly” despite the fact that she had “a considerable record of liberal leanings.”

“This,” Meese told the crowd, “is really the example and the model that should be taken with future confirmation proceedings.”

He said Democratic and Republican senators should get together and develop guidelines that ensure confirmation hearings “return to a dignified process.” At the very least, he said, senators should start by not asking nominees their opinions on heady legal issues.

Meese was applauded afterward, but some in the crowd seemed mystified by what came across as a very partisan speech.

One former judge suggested quietly that Meese might not have been aware that Democratic lawyers hold their functions at the Fairmont, while their Republican counterparts meet across the street at the Mark Hopkins Hotel.

Tuesday’s event was the 59th California Supreme Court luncheon hosted by The Lawyers’ Club of San Francisco.

— Mike McKee

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3 Responses to “Ed Meese: Why Can’t Dems Be Polite — Like GOP?”

  1. Eh Nonymous Says:

    I don’t know much about confirmations – just what I’ve heard on teevee, from blogs, incessant news stories, and the like. I’m basically uninformed.

    But I do suspect that the senior Senator from Vermont, who for years and years has been trying to bring a little attention to the real track record of the Clinton confirmations vs. prior and subsequent administrations, would once again be dismayed by this sort of thing.

    Bush has been good at getting Federalist Society members approved. He has been good at getting highly conservative minorities approved. He has been okay at getting moderately conservative and very bright candidates approved, to the dismay of radical conservatives.

    He has not been especially good at finding minorities in general to nominate. So few of them fit the ideological mold he prefers.

    He has been extraordinarily successful in getting his nominees approved to the bench, far more than Clinton was, and the number of votes denied to Clinton nominees is larger. I was going to type “much” larger, but I’d be required to back that up with numbers. Instead, anyone who can challenge the fact “larger” with something definitive, to show it was, instead, smaller can do so.

  2. Scott Graham Says:

    My recollection is Clinton was much less likely to make a nomination if it was clear it would be controversial. For example, he had floated Bruce Babbitt and Mario Cuomo for the Supreme Court, but it was clear he would have had a battle royal for confirmation so went with the less controversial Ginsburg. I can also think of a few Ninth Circuit nominees — Willy Fletcher and Richard Paez come to mind — who wait years for their confirmation. So I think it’s somewhat disingenuous for the GOP to say we were nicer to nominees than the Dems were.

  3. carlatun Says:

    perfect site good information, very nice news and etc… tnx

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