The Committee for Justice, which pushes for confirmation of conservative federal judges, says Joe Lieberman, the former Democrat-turned-independent, could be a problem as John McCain‘s vice presidential running mate. They offer three steps he could take to assuage conservatives’ fears he would push for pro-choice, liberal judges: Recuse himself from helping McCain pick judges, promise not to run for president himself, and agree to caucus for the rest of the year with Republicans.
That last one is the most intriguing: With control of the Senate split 49-49, the two independents who caucus with the Democrats mean Democrats control the chamber, and can refuse to bring judges to the floor for a vote. If Lieberman were to switch, that would make the Senate effectively 50-50, meaning Vice President Dick Cheney’s tie-breaking vote would swing control to Republicans, as it did in 2001.
As Curt Levey at the Committee for Justice says: “That would make Arlen Specter chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Mitch McConnell Majority Leader, likely resulting in the confirmation of four pending appeals court nominees to the all-important Fourth and D.C. Circuits. Senate Democrats would be unwilling to risk the fate of Tom Daschle by filibustering nominees so close to an election.”
Levey says he doubts Lieberman would make any such deals, and he’s probably right. But for the large percentage of conservatives who say judges is the only reason to vote for McCain this year, Lieberman would be a scary pick. McCain might consider asking for some sort of assurances from Lieberman to convince those conservatives.
— Stephen Dinan, national political correspondent, The Washington Times