Leahy to Lobby Orgs: I Wish You'd All STFU

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Leahy to Lobby Orgs: I Wish You'd All STFU

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) brings up something I've wondered for a while-- just how much influence do political organizations have when it comes to the process of approving a Supreme Court judicial nominee? Outside of organizations combing through a nominee's entire background and uncovering something pivotal, are senators influenced by the rhetoric of right or left-wing groups? Or are orgs like NARAL Pro-choice America, People For the American way and Progress for America just wasting a lot of valuable energy and money?

Personally, I hope that other senators, like Leahy, read everything they can, carefully weigh the nominee's testimony, and then make an assessment from there.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's top Democrat assailed advocacy-group commercials for and against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, suggesting they won't sway senators weighing his confirmation.
"These outside lobbying groups, whether on the right or the left, have become, for me anyway, basically irrelevant," said Leahy, D-Vt. "They will probably be offended by that and I am not saying they shouldn't do what they do. I just wish they didn't."

Leahy, who has met privately with Roberts, called him extremely bright, very pleasant and "definitely somebody who has a very clear philosophical legal view."

"There are two kinds of very clear philosophical legal view," Leahy said. "One that totally shuts out the possibility that you can even consider anybody else's view. The other says I have a clear view, convince me of yours; that says I have my own philosophy but I will listen to arguments."
According to an Associated Press survey, 33 senators already say they will vote to confirm Roberts or are leaning that way. All but one are Republicans.

Leahy said it's foolish to take a stand on Roberts before the Judiciary Committee holds its confirmation hearings.

"There are some people it would be tempting to pass early judgment on because of some of the positions they have taken ... but I don't think Roberts falls into that category," he said.

Leahy is a veteran of this process. While half the senators have never voted on the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, Leahy has voted on all nine justices during his 30 years in the Senate.
I think Leahy is a very wise man. I hope that a few orgs take this as a cue to pipe down, keep on digging and researching and wait for the testimony, see if that bears any fruit. Although in DC it's already common knowledge that Roberts is going to be confirmed, barring any shocking revelations that he's an alien from outerspace or likes to wear a negligee under his robes.

So let's not blow our wad on this fight, especially since there could be another one right around the corner. What worries me is that a lot of liberals orgs could end up being portrayed as the Boy Who Cried Wolf-- and next time it really could be a wolf.

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