As soon as Justice Stevens has announced his retirement, I fully expected the flaming spitballs of hate to reach epic levels in the Senate. After all, a Supreme Court nominee is always a vigorous debate. And it should be. However, I am more than happy to say that I was incorrect thus far.
The media and the pundocracy have been using hyperbolic phrases that would lead one to believe duels were just around the corner. Much to the circling media's chagrin senior Republicans had a sudden outbreak of statesmanship. Most refused to even discuss the potential nominees until the president actually names one. While all promised a thorough review, they also promised a dignified one. Even the filibuster waving Kyl took a very professional stance, promising a review of the nominee's court decisions and other writings.
While the media pandering and ranting is certainly not helpful, it is their absolute right to look and sound like morons using terms like "battle lines," "court wars," "fight of the decade," and so on. Imagine the disappointment at MSNBC, Fox and CNN when the GOP refused to take the bait.
As I thought back on previous court confirmation proceedings, it dawned on me that almost all of the serious histrionics have come from Democrats. Bork, Thomas, Estrada, Alito and so on. I am not saying any or all were right or wrong for the court. That is the Constitutional duty of the US Senate.
What I am pointing out is that, while the Republicans in the Senate have certainly flung their share of trash around over Health Care and the rest, they seem totally capable of proceeding on the nomination in a dignified manner suited to the importance of a justice on the US Supreme Court.
In fact, even Justice Sotomayor received fair and appropriate treatment from the GOP Senators. Even those that voted against her for political reasons cited her excellent record as a judge.
To be fair, it has almost always been Democrats that step way over the edge on court appointments. Most famous is the treatment Justice Thomas received from Lieberman's committee. Robert Bork was brutalized. Estrada shoved aside for honoring attorney-client privilege. Democrats almost always want court nominees to opine on law, when they know full well that a good jurist will not express an opinion on any matter they might have to rule on.
This is not to exonerate Republicans completely. They will most certainly want to know about key issues and will almost certainly decry the lack of answers to opinion type questions. They will almost certainly try to stop any nominee for political reasons. That is the nature of the US Senate - one of the very reasons the Founding Fathers created our system of checks and balances.
But it is the approach they are taking now that is worthy of note and applause. At last, they are acting like adults. Mature adults, acting responsibly. It is a rare sight these days and one to be savored, especially when put to the backdrop of Chuck Schumer's screaming concern over carry-on baggage.
So, I applaud those GOP Senators that have urged a proper and dignified approach. That have refused to pre-judge a nominee not yet named. Like them, I eagerly await the named to come and look forward to a dignified approach to the nominee.
I only hope they remember this the next time a piece of legislation rolls in. Perhaps they can actually participate in the legislative process.