It is time to stop playing games with judicial nominees. As senators cross swords and point fingers, seats remain empty, sitting judges get swamped, and cases drag on. Those who pay the highest price are the plaintiffs, defendants, crime victims and businesses relying on the courts to resolve disputes and dispense justice.
President Bush deserves blame for not naming nominees sooner and for ignoring the advice of home-state senators. But that does not relieve senators of their duty to evaluate those who have been nominated. The Senate last week confirmed one Court of Appeals nominee and four U.S. District Court nominees; that should be only the beginning. In the past two years, the Senate has confirmed seven nominees to the Court of Appeals; 16 such nominees were confirmed during President Bill Clinton's final two years in office. It appears unlikely that Democratic senators will match that number, but they should at least give every current nominee an up-or-down vote and expeditiously process the nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, where five of the court's 15 seats are vacant.
We gave the Democrats a chance to turn things around 18 months ago, but they haven't done much but be petulant and childish. We're all worse off for it. Where are Daniel Webster and Henry Clay when you need them?