Monday, May 02, 2005

Sen Talent Responds

Below is the response I received from Sen Jim Talent (R- MO) to my recent email. The most interesting thing about it is that it is not a form letter. Someone at Talent's office actually read my email and responded directly, as opposed to just cutting and pasting a policy statment.

Dear Dr. Ward:

Thank you for contacting me about the pending judicialnominations. I appreciate the time you have taken to share yourviews with me, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

My feeling towards judicial nominations is that I will vote to confirm nominees if they are reasonably qualified and competent, and if their jurisprudence reflects a widely held view of American law. Basically this means that if a nominee has enjoyed reasonable success in a field of law or legal education over anumber of years, I will vote to confirm him or her, unless there iscredible evidence that the nominee is dishonest or has a strangeeccentric jurisprudence.

The nominees you mention are all entitled to confirmationunder this standard. They are all qualified in the sense that theyhave records that reflect competent legal skills; even theirdetractors do not refute that. To the extent that these nominees have been opposed, it is because some Senators do not agree withtheir judicial philosophy. But that is not the basis for opposing,much less filibustering, a nominee. If it were, no one who hasviews about the law could ever get confirmed because one side orthe other would filibuster them.

America is divided about a lot of things, and these divisionsalso exist in the legal community. I have strong views myselfabout many of the issues you mentioned in your letter. It sounds asif you are on the left of the political spectrum and that we would therefore disagree. But we should both be able to accept that the other's views are representative of a broad section of American political and legal thought. On that basis I would cheerfully vote to confirm a good lawyer who had your opinions and was nominated to the federal bench. So the issue here is less the qualifications of the nominees you mention, but whether those on the left wing are still rallying to concede, as heretofore they always have, that those on the other side of the spectrum may be permitted to serve in the Federal Judiciary.

Unfortunately, for some in Washington, politics continues to take precedence over the fair consideration of judicial nominations. The decision by the Senate Democrats to filibuster a number of the President's nominees in the 108th session of Congress was unfortunate to say the least.

I am not a big supporter of the filibuster in general. But I do believe that if it is going to be used it should be reserved for issues of the greatest national significance, not abused for political reasons. I will continue to monitor the situation because I strongly believe that the President's nominees will receive fair treatment.

Again thank you for contacting me. If I may be of furtherassistance, please don't hesitate to call or write.

Thank you for your email. To contact me on this or any other subject, please go


Senator Jim Talent
As for the policy, it's straighforward and worthy of respect.

Of course, 'the devil is always in the details' and Sen Talent has given himself some wiggle room in his pledge to vote to confirm any reasonably qualified nominee with the caveat, " if their jurisprudence reflects a widely held view of American law. "

Sen Talent supports the nomination of Judge Janice Rogers Brown. There is no question that Judge Brown's views do not, even remotely reflect "widely held views of American law".

Thus, I assume the wiggle room here is to be used against judges he deems to the left.

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