Sixty-three days before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, discussions about his judicial selection program are already heating up. As President Bush has shown, and we have repeatedly claimed, one of a president’s most lasting legacies is the one he leaves on the bench. While the president serves for at most eight years, his judges can stay on the bench for decades.
Considering the number of highly conservative and fairly young justices that President Bush has appointed, the vacancies that are left for President-elect Obama to fill are that much more crucial. Both sides are speculating about the kinds of judges our new president will pick. Progressive groups, including Alliance for Justice, are hoping that he will select jurists in the mold of Thurgood Marshall and Earl Warren. Conservatives meanwhile, are gearing up for battle.
Ironically enough, those same senators who cried “Obstruction!” any time one of President Bush’s nominees was questioned are now preemptively preparing to block potential Obama appointees. Apparently, these senators have adopted the mantra of change for themselves, or at least changing their tune when it suits their ideological agenda, anyway. After all, for eight years, they’ve argued that the president’s nominees demand respect and should at least receive an up-or-down vote. But before a single candidate is put forward, Republican senators are already talking filibuster.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee told the Washington Times that “it appears [President-elect Obama] is more committed to the appointment of activist judges than even President Clinton.” Breaking out the empty rhetoric of judicial activism already? That must be some sort of record. There hasn’t even been a nomination yet! Maybe we could all hold out on condemning President-elect Obama’s nominees until he at least takes office?