WASHINGTON, DC - With an eye to the pivotal role of the Senate’s 14 red state Democrats in the imminent vote on Fifth Circuit nominee Judge Leslie Southwick, the Committee for Justice (CFJ) has analyzed the voting patterns of the 14 senators regarding judicial nominations. The analysis, released today, scores each Democratic senator from a red state based on the 26 most important votes on President Bush’s judicial nominees. A detailed scorecard is provided below.
“The cloture vote on Iraq War veteran Leslie Southwick is this year’s first big test of where senators stand on the judges issue,” said CFJ executive director Curt Levey. “While it’s no secret that the Senate’s most liberal Democrats have made a habit of obstructing the President’s finest judicial nominees, the records of red state Democrats on the issue are less well known. We think their constituents deserve to know if their votes on judges in Washington match their conservative rhetoric back home. So we looked at the 26 key votes that best indicate whether a senator is generally supportive of the President’s judicial nominees or, instead, tends to side with the liberal Democrats who have used an ideological litmus test to politicize and obstruct the confirmation of judges.”
“The results were disappointing,” said Levey. “It turns out that 12 of the 14 red state Democrats typically side with the obstructionists in blocking the President’s judicial nominees. In fact, six of the 14 have records that are barely distinguishable from the Senate’s leading liberals. When it comes to judges, most of the red state Democrats appear to be listening to Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and left wing special interest groups, rather than the people they represent back home.”
“The worst red state offenders are Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) and Evan Bayh (IN),” explained Levey. “Their records of obstruction make even Chuck Schumer of New York look reasonable. Only slightly better are red state Democrats Max Baucus (MT), John Rockefeller (WV), Tim Johnson (SD), and Byron Dorgan (ND). Another six red state senators – Mary Landrieu (LA), Mark Pryor (AK), Blanche Lincoln (AK), Bill Nelson (FL), Robert Byrd (WV), and Kent Conrad (ND) – are in the obstructionist camp about two-thirds of the time. Which leaves only Ken Salazar (CO) and especially Ben Nelson (NE) as admirable exceptions to red state Democrats’ abysmal record on judges.”
“The good news is that the upcoming vote on Judge Southwick offers these wayward red state senators a second chance on an issue that’s important to many red state voters. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate to their constituents that they favor judges who will interpret rather than rewrite the Constitution,” noted Mr. Levey. “Many of the people they represent are concerned about the erosion of traditional values in the face of judicial activism. I urge those constituents to pick up the phone this week and remind their senators of the importance of putting constitutionalist judges like Leslie Southwick on the federal courts.”
“Five of the wayward senators – Landrieu, Pryor, Johnson, Baucus, and Rockefeller – are facing an election next year,” Levey added. “If I were up for re-election in a red state, I wouldn’t want to go home for the Thanksgiving recess next month and have to explain to my constituents why I teamed up with Ted Kennedy to shoot down an Iraq War veteran.”
The Committee for Justice is a non-partisan, non-profit organization devoted to promoting constitutionalist judicial nominees and the rule of law.
Download the full PDF of our report here.
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