Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Inhofe Precedent

Look, there are a bunch of reasons to oppose Samuel Alito on the grounds that he's not the right man to serve on the court, but we just got 17 more reasons to fight him. Today Bush gave recess appointments to 17 different people, including three members of the FEC who have received absolutely no hearings and the ridiculously unqualified Julie Myers to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement (and it ain't just lefties who think that: read this and this and this).

If you'll remember, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe went ballistic after President Clinton appointed James Hormel ambassador to Luxembourg, saying that Clinton had "shown contempt for Congress and the Constitution. He has treated the Senate confirmation process as little more than a nuisance which he can circumvent whenever he wants to impose his will on the country." Of course this was bullshit. Clinton, more than two years into his second term, had used the recess appointment power less than George H.W. Bush, who had four less years to exercise it, and Inhofe wasn't pissed about any of Clinton's other nominees. He hated Hormel because Hormel is openly gay and Inhofe is a raging homophobe.

Trent Lott, Senate Majority Leader at the time, backed Inhofe , who vowed to oppose all Clinton nominees until Clinton agreed to "refrain from making any future recess appointments" and "if there were extraordinary circumstances in which he was going to have to (make future recess appointments), to notify the Senate in advance." Inhofe said he was only following the 1985 move by Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, who blocked Reagan's appointees for two months.

So, Democrats in the Senate should both hit Alito hard on the issues, but should also block him using the Inhofe Precedent. They should lay out all the background on these recess appointees at the same time they're hitting Alito and should use every possible method to slow the Senate to a crawl.

And they should publicly shame Inhofe and Lott if they don't join in.


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