USAToday: Bush's Conservative Legacy Will Be Federal Judiciary
The one area where George W. Bush has lived up to conservative expectations has been in his judicial nominations. USAToday writes:
WASHINGTON — Within weeks of George W. Bush's inauguration, he revealed a systematic, aggressive and tightly controlled approach to making lifetime appointments to the federal bench.(emphasis added)
The new president ejected the American Bar Association from the screening process, ending its half-century role of reviewing candidates' credentials before a nomination. Bush turned to lawyers who had been on Ronald Reagan's judicial selection team to help seek out prominent conservative thinkers. All indications were that Bush was trying to emulate Reagan, whose conservative mark on the bench has been deep and enduring.
Now, as Bush enters the last months of his presidency, he has come close to accomplishing his goal. He is likely to end up with fewer total judicial appointments than this two-term predecessors, Reagan (1981-89) and Bill Clinton (1993-2001). Yet Bush has appointed conservatives to lifetime posts with the potential to affect the law in America for decades.
"I think that what he has done on judges is his major triumph," says political science professor Sheldon Goldman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who has been tracking judges since the 1960s. "In almost every other area, domestic policy and foreign policy, there have been failures. But with judges, it's a major success story."
"President Bush might not get the total number of appointees that Reagan got," says Barbara Perry, a political science professor at Sweet Briar College, "but in a way he one-ups Reagan with Roberts, who could serve as chief justice longer than Rehnquist, and with Alito, who is much more conservative than O'Connor."
Ignoring the Miers imbroglio, which Bush corrected with one of the finest Supreme Court appointments of my lifetime, the one Bush failure that I can think of with respect to the federal judiciary is that we've basically lost the 4th Circuit, which has traditionally been one of the more conservative federal appeals courts in the nation.
That failure is part-and-parcel with the matter of failing to get votes for nominees that the Democrats successfully bottled up for years in committee procedural nonsense. There are numerous vacancies throughout all the federal circuits and in numerous district courts just waiting for the next President to make his or her mark on the judiciary - not because Bush has failed to nominate people to fill those vacancies, but because of the Democrat Party's concerted efforts to deny such nominees an up-or-down vote and the failure of their Republican counterparts in the Senate to exercise their power to move the nominations forward.
I hope Republicans will follow suit with delay and deny tactics of their own should we be cursed with a President Moloch from among the Democrat contenders. But I won't hold my breath.
Case-in-point: Patrick Leahy’s continued obstruction of President Bush’s judicial appointments
(Hat tip: Feddie)