Advice and Consent

I've featured previous correspondence with Senator Larry Craig of Idaho in the past. Given that we hold polar opposite views on almost every issue imaginable, letter-writing is probably an exercise in futility, but I'm not smart enough to give up and do something else.

I don't recall what we sent him that prompted his most recent reply, but he sent "Mr. and Mrs." a thoughtful two-page letter, and two pages' worth of his speechifying. The former seemed reasonable enough. The latter had the smarmy self-rigtheousness and careful selection of facts and moral dudgeon that characterizes so much of what is spoken in the Senate. Particularly remarkable was his careful leak of a "private" conversation, in which "a senior member from the other side of that committee told (him), 'you know, Larry, your nominee is not going to get a vote on the floor.'"

I could just picture his indignation when he said "They had planned it well in advance. They had picked Bill Myers like they have picked other judicial nominees for their political purposes." (Then: "Now the conversation went on, but it was private, and I won't divulge it.")

Poor mining company lawyer Bill Myers, just an unwitting pawn in a political turf war.

Anyway, here's what we wrote back:

Dear Senator Craig:

Thank you for your letter of May 11, 2005, concerning the Senate's handling of judicial nominations. We appreciate the detailed information and description of your position.

Your April 20th speech on the Senate floor was interesting, also. We didn't have the context for the "Tom DeLay test," but can speak to the "environmental test." You cited the positive elements of Myers' background and a couple prominent Democrats who support his nomination, but you did not mention his well-documented hostility to environmental protection laws. We might suppose this is because you share his point of view.

Myers has a record of siding with corporate interests over environmental health and safety protections, which calls into question his ability to act impartially in the public interest as a judge for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. We understand that Myers has minimal litigation experience at any level, and that more than one-third of his ABA review panel deemed him "unqualified" for this post, while the remaining members of the panel gave him the minimal "qualified" rating, and none rated him "well-qualified" for this position.

As you know, our electoral system provides a variety of protections for minorities against the majority. The majority of the national electorate voted for Democratic Senators, but the Republicans enjoy a strong majority in the Senate.

We simply do not buy the grand rhetoric about the Constitution from either side. We have seen both parties do whatever they can to employ procedural maneuvers to get their way. We applaud the bipartisan effort to reach a compromise on this issue, and we're sorry that neither of our Senators from Idaho were able to participate. The choice of which of the stalled nominations to let proceed apparently did not include William Myers'. So be it.

The Senate has the role of advice and consent for the President's nominations, and the minority party has the power to block actions they deem to be extreme by the majority. This is as it should be. Many of President Bush's nominees have been and will be confirmed. We're certain there are many well-qualified candidates for judicial nominations that could satisfy both parties. Rejecting those who are not well-qualified or who have shown biases that the American people as a whole do not endorse is exactly the right thing to do, in our opinion.

27.May.2005, by Tom von Alten and Jeanette Ross

Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

Friday, 27-May-2005 09:21:43 MDT