01 Mar 2002 Time to Stop “Nomination Profiling,” by Kevin Martin
We were shocked and horrified to learn police officers were using race as a factor to identify potential criminals. “Racial profiling” is condemned for generalizing entire classes of people.
But that was then and this is now. In the liberal-controlled U.S. Senate, it’s all the rage to openly discriminate against President George W. Bush’s nominees simply because they are conservatives. Liberal senators, with the backing of political special interests, are engaging in “nomination profiling.” In the process, the reputations of good people are being dragged through the mud for no defensible reason.
With Judge Charles Pickering, Sr. of Mississippi, the term “knee-jerk” comes to mind. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted against his nomination for an appeals court judgeship. After a Committee vote that fell along ideological and party lines, the full Senate won’t be considering Pickering. According the Constitution I’m familiar with, the full Senate is supposed to confirm presidential nominees and not just select committee members.
Groups and politicians opposing conservative nominees are doing so on expressly political grounds. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said that was her reason for opposing Pickering on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” A judge, however, is supposed to rule based on existing law, and the senators are supposed to base their votes on qualifications, temperament and record. In Pickering’s case, the Senate already unanimously confirmed him for a federal district court judgeship in 1990, and the American Bar Association – which is not a conservative group – gave him a “well qualified” ranking.
But liberals expect liberal judges to legislate from the bench with disregard to the separation of powers built into the Constitution. They fear conservative judges will do the same or, more likely, strike down previous liberal rulings that went beyond the law. Profiled conservative nominees find their reputations smeared.
To hear the liberal version of Judge Pickering’s record, you’d think he was the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. In reality, Pickering testified against the Imperial Wizard in 1967 (at great risk to himself and his family) and aided the FBI in itsKlan-busting operations. Opponents blew isolated half-truths out of proportion. One example of Pickering’s insensitivity was a three-page law school paper written in 1959 that discussed but did not support Mississippi’s law banning interracial marriage. Pickering believes interracial marriage is a “personal choice” and that bans are unconstitutional, but critics like Marcia Kurtz of the Alliance for Justice used that 1959 to call Pickering “a throwback to the days of the segregated South.”
While liberal senators took their cues from special interest groups based in places like New York City and Washington, they ignored those who know Pickering best and would be served by him. Thaddeus Edmonson, the president of the Laurel, Mississippi city council and a former local NAACP president, said, “If the people who are voting against him because of some press release would come down here and talk to the people who know him, I think they would have a very different opinion.” Black folk in Mississippi know Pickering is conservative, but, as Edmonson notes, Pickering “is very sensitive on racial issues and always makes sure that they are safeguarded in his court.”
But all this is moot since Pickering’s nomination was voted down by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Pickering deserved a vote in the full Senate. Beyond Pickering, there are several other important nominations still being held up by the liberal leadership of the Senate. Nominees such as Miguel Estrada and D. Brooks Smith are getting the same treatment as Pickering. Dozens more are simply being ignored, leaving our judiciary dangerously understaffed. At the Department of Education, the Office of Civil Rights is leaderless as Senator Ted Kennedy manhandles black conservative nominee Gerald Reynolds.
It’s time to end the stonewalling.
Especially in the cases of Pickering, Estrada and Reynolds, civil rights groups such as the NAACP should be calling for quick votes on these qualified nominees for important jobs. Instead, these groups mouth their support for racial tolerance while sitting on the leftmost fringe of the political spectrum. Just like the cops they’ve criticized in the past, they’re profiling nominees for rough treatment.
Just as we’ve recognized the offensiveness of racial profiling, let’s also quit the nomination profiling. We’ll all be the better off for it.