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RealClearPolitics - Articles - Curt A. Levey

Last Build Date: Wed, 24 May 2006 00:25:53 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Judged Guilty by Association

Wed, 24 May 2006 00:25:53 -0600

Brett Kavanaugh, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003, was chosen by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as the first beneficiary, among the four, of a renewed Republican push for confirmation. Senate Democrats, as well as the liberal interest groups that have orchestrated much of the fight against the president's judicial nominees, have dreamed up a variety of reasons to oppose Kavanaugh over the last three years. His relative youth - Kavanaugh is 41 - is just one example. However, their intense dislike of him stems primarily from his employment under Ken Starr in the office investigating the Clinton scandals. Senator Hillary Clinton is believed to be the senator who placed a hold on Kavanaugh's nomination. Never mind that it is Kavanaugh who tried to persuade Starr not to include graphic details about the President's encounter with Monica Lewinsky. The nominee's work for the Bush campaign during the Florida recount and his close relationship to the President are additional sins in the minds of Democrats. Intent on extracting an extra pound of flesh from Kavanaugh, Senate Democrats demanded that he be put through an unusual second Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month. In return, they promised to keep an open mind. Yet he did not receive a single Democratic vote when he squeaked through the Committee on May 11. After three years of resistance, the Democrats appear to be ready to allow Kavanaugh's confirmation. But the fate of the other three nominees remains uncertain at best. Of the three, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle has been waiting the longest. He was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit more than five years ago, but has yet to receive a vote on the Senate floor, amid threats of a Democratic filibuster. This is not the first time he's waited. In 1991, the first President Bush nominated him to the same court, but Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden (D - DE) refused to schedule a confirmation hearing for him. Senate Democrats' latest stated reasons for opposing Boyle include an allegedly high reversal rate and newfound charges about conflicts of interest. In fact, a bipartisan investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee found that Boyle's reversal rate is less than the national average. And Boyle's failure to catch all potential conflicts of interest, virtually inevitable for a long-serving federal judge, involved insignificant financial interests in the outcome of cases - as little as a penny. The real reason Senate Democrats have been blocking this nominee for five years is their hatred of former Sen. Jesse Helms (R - NC), for whom Boyle briefly worked. Democrats and their confederates have trotted out their standard smear for Republicans from the South, claiming Boyle shares the politically incorrect racial views attributed to Helms. Most specifically, they have charged - in the words of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid - that Boyle was "part of the cabal, working with Jesse Helms to stop African-Americans from going on the 4th Circuit." Their only evidence: Boyle worked as Helms's legislative assistant for eight months in 1973 - 20 years before the alleged obstruction - and remained a friend of Helms afterwards. Apparently, Boyle's endorsement by African-American defense attorneys who have appeared before him counts for nothing. The other long-suffering Fourth Circuit nominee, William Haynes, has been languishing in the Senate for almost three years. He has yet to get even a vote in the Judiciary Committee, despite twice being given the American Bar Association's highest rating. Like Boyle and Kavanaugh, he has garnered fierce opposition by choosing an employer that liberals love to hate - in this case, the Department of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld. Haynes has been the Department's general counsel since 2001. Senate Democrats know that Haynes had little or no decision-making authority regarding the conduct of the War on Terror and the Iraq War. Yet they have done their best to smear him using guilt by association[...]