Columns » Editorials

Picking judges



Picking judges

The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that when Republicans have the opportunity to appoint high government officials they appoint mad-dog Republicans, and when Democrats have the opportunity to appoint high government officials, they appoint  Republicans a little less mad. But not much less, usually.

The Democrats could use a new strategy. What they're doing is not good for their party, and worse for their country.

After reviewing a long list of applicants, Arkansas's two senators, ostensible Democrats, have sent President Obama a list of nine candidates for three open federal judgeships in Arkansas. One of these nominees was vetted especially closely; politics makes for strange vet fellows. Amy Russell of Little Rock, a federal court law clerk, is the wife of Bob Russell, who is chief of staff for Sen. Mark Pryor and who had a major role in selecting the nine nominees. Evidently, he liked the cut of his spouse's jib.

Others find Mrs. Russell's jib less attractive. She gave $1,000 to the Republican presidential candidate, one George W. Bush, in 2000, and while that's not quite a felony, it's surely a disqualification for a federal judgeship. Far too many Bush enablers are presiding over federal courts already. Mrs. Russell votes in Republican primaries, too. Did Americans elect Barack Obama because they wanted more of George Bush's justice?

Presumably, Senator Pryor is Mrs. Russell's patron. Though he solicits their contributions, Pryor is uncomfortable around real Democrats, preferring the company of renegades like Joe Lieberman, whom Pryor supported against a Democratic Senate candidate in Connecticut. Lieberman openly campaigned for the Republican presidential candidate last year. Perhaps Pryor allowed Lieberman to pick the judicial nominees from Arkansas. He seems more solicitous of his colleague than his constituents.

Republicans go about these things very differently. A couple of years ago, when the Bush administration fired a gang of Republican U.S. attorneys considered insufficiently partisan, Bush and Karl Rove replaced them with people distinguished by their eagerness to do dirty work for the party. In Little Rock, Bud Cummins had to make way for Tim Griffin, a former Republican National Committee operative who gained fame, of a sort, in a Republican effort to keep blacks and Hispanics from voting. Griffin is said to be considering a U.S. Senate race against Blanche Lincoln. He might get Pryor's endorsement.

After what happened in this country for eight years — the trumped-up war, the corruption, the environmental damage, the denial of minority rights, the destruction of the economy, the torture — we can't stand another Bush judge.


Add a comment