- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2006

Conservative activists waited apprehensively Friday for the Senate Judiciary Committee to move on stalled judicial nominees scheduled then for consideration. Nothing. The committee did not move any of the nominees scheduled for consideration that day.

Hearings continue this afternoon, at which point perhaps, just maybe, the Senate can do better. Really it must: Time may be running out, and the Senate would be to blame if that happens. Rarely do good politics and good policy coincide so nicely as they do now on President Bush’s judicial nominees.

When Mr. Bush renominated five federal judges blocked repeatedly by Democratic obstructionists two weeks ago, the message was clear: Push these nominations, and push them hard. The five “divisive” nominees are: Terrence Boyle of North Carolina and William James Haynes II of Virginia, nominated for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond; Michael Brunson Wallace of Mississippi for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans; and William Gerry Myers III and Norman Randy Smith of Idaho for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

Judge Boyle’s nomination has languished for more than five years. Judge Haynes is a target of Democratic ire over terrorism detainees.

These are golden opportunities to showcase the differences between Republicans and Democrats in an election year. They are equally opportune to accomplish one of the things conservatives sent Mr. Bush to Washington for in the first place: Fill the federal bench with responsible constitutionalist judges.

There are other pending judges whose nominations also deserve a floor vote. Among these are Peter D. Keisler, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee to replace Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, whom even Sen. Ted Kennedy seems to find unobjectionable; and Michael Wallace, whom the American Bar Association spuriously labeled “not qualified.” These are golden opportunities.

Back in July, columnist Robert Novak warned that it may already have been too late for Republicans to make judicial nominations a defining feature of the coming midterm elections. Whether that is true, Republican senators must operate as though it is not. The Senate must use this abbreviated session to make a stand. If they fail, the harm to both constitutionalism, as well as Republicans’ midterm prospects, will be readily apparent. Giving the country good judges now gives conservatives an excellent reminder why they turned out in great numbers in 2000, 2002 and 2004, and why they should do so again on Nov. 7.

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