Rejection a Victory for Democrats
September 13, 2002
By Nicholas Pyeatt
There have been few victories for the forces of liberty
in the past two years. Our president is still as illegitimate
as the day he took office and the voices of those who oppose
his presidency are quieted by a period of national security
problems. Our anachronistic attorney general is steadily eroding
the rights that have been struggled for since the signing
of the Magna Carta. Our leaders are plotting a war against
an irascible Middle Eastern leader whose biggest crime seems
to be the fact that he embarrassed our president’s daddy.
Despite all this turmoil, all is not lost in the American
republic as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-9 recently
to reject conservative judicial activist, Priscilla Owen.
This is the second major defeat for Bush the Younger when
it comes to judicial nominations, the first being Mississippi
jurist Pickering. His nominations of extremist justices such
as Owen and Pickering to the powerful and lifelong federal
bench is a sop to his extremist right wing allies that make
up the core of the Republican party.
Though Bush’s own conservatism is based far more on a generic
pro-corporate ideology, the grassroots portion of the Republican
Party is dominated by social conservatives. It is imperative
that our Senate representatives know that we oppose any federal
jurists that will not interpret the law as written.
Though now may seem like a time to rest, it is critical that
we do not allow our victory in this battle to go to our heads.
Republicans throughout the country along with their allies
in the corporate media are seeking to use this situation to
complain about Democrats “obstructionist” policies. We cannot
allow them to lose the battle but win the spin.
We need to remind the American people that when the Republicans
regained the Senate in 1994, they did not approve a majority
of Clinton’s nominees leading to serious judicial shortages
in some areas. Their commonly used tactic was merely not to
grant any hearing at all to well qualified and moderate justices.
Clinton’s appointees were not extreme in the least and were
generally ranked by judicial experts as some of the best qualified
Republicans in the Senate who voted lock-step for Owen did
so while distorting large portions of her record. While they
played up the fact that she was well educated, they ignored
the fact that she was not well respected on the bench and
that her opinions seemed geared at nothing so much as advancing
her right wing ideology. Her opinions and especially her dissents
seem to be based not on laws (or even discussions concerning
laws) but upon her own idea of “justice”.
Owen did not deserve a federal judgeship and it is excellent
that the Democrats were able to exert a level of solidarity
in rejecting her. It is unfortunate that none of the Republicans
were able to see past their narrow partisan interests. We
should remind voters in their home states that these senators
voted as a party to approve a judge to whom moderation was
a foreign word.
Democrats in the Senate were not being obstructionist because
that implies they were acting only to preserve their own interest.
Democrats acted to protect the federal courts from a takeover
by extremists. The story here is not the fact that all ten
Democrats voted against her, but the fact that Owen received
nine more votes than she deserved.