This afternoon’s Required Reading is Nat Henthoff’s takedown of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
When the Senate Judiciary Committee killed the presidential nomination of judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by a strict party-line 10-9 vote, Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said triumphantly: “We have made the Constitution, work and we have made this committee work.”
I challenge Sen. Leahy to find in the Constitution, in James Madison’s notes on the debates as the Constitution was being written, and in the Federalist Papers, any justification for allowing a single committee, no matter which party is in the majority, to veto a federal judicial nomination.
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says clearly that the president shall nominate judges “with the advice and consent of the Senate.” There is no footnote giving the final authority to the Judiciary Committee. Its veto power is the result of Senate rule. A constitutional amendment is not required to change that rule. All it requires is enough senators who believe in a process that is democratic.
And that vote has about as much chance of getting out of committee as Pickering’s nomination.