(I'd like to welcome Kathryn Kolbert from PFAW to the pages of C&L. (Kathryn has been recognized repeatedly by The National Law Journal as one of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America) She will have a steady column here on a regular basis to share with us her expertise on all matters relating to the courts. )
Sen. John McCain delivered a speech at Wake Forest University today on judicial nominations. His basic message: I love George Bush’s judicial nominees – keep ‘em coming. He picked up where Bush is about to leave off, and read from the same script written by Sen. Sam Brownback, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, and Pat Robertson’s lawyer Jay Sekulow.
While McCain mostly pandered to the far right, he also threw a bone to moderates by playing up his involvement in the so-called Gang of 14. But let’s be honest, the “Gang” may have prevented Bill Frist from nuking the Senate, but it also put three of Bush’s very worst nominees – Bill Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown, and Priscilla Owen – on the federal courts for life.
That’s consistent with McCain’s larger record on judges. He has voted to confirm every one of Bush’s controversial appellate court nominees, no matter how extreme and ideological. Back in 1987, when President Reagan nominated Robert Bork, McCain supported him too.
Here was McCain – regurgitating Bush’s favorite talking point – at a debate last year: "One of our greatest problems in America today is justices that legislate from the bench, activist judges.” “I'm proud that we have Justice Alito and Roberts on the United States Supreme Court," he continued.
But Roberts and Alito, and their fellow right-wing justices Scalia and Thomas, are “legislating from the bench.” In just the last two years they have joined together to:
· make it much harder for victims of pay discrimination to get justice
· deny free speech protections to government employee whistleblowers
· make it harder for taxpayers to challenge federal spending that violates the constitutional separation of church and state
· uphold a ban on a particular abortion procedure even though the law has no exception to protect a woman's health
· undermine school officials' efforts to promote racial diversity in their schools
· undermine the Endangered Species Act
and so much more. The bottom line is that America just can’t afford another right-wing Bush justice on the Supreme Court
Kathryn Kolbert is president of People For the American Way.