Friday, July 01, 2005

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy's appeal on O'Connor resignation

Here's a missive from our senator next door . . .

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 01 Jul 2005 15:05:34 -0400
From: Pat Leahy <>
Subject: The Senate Is Not a Rubber Stamp

Dear Bill,

This morning, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement from
the United States Supreme Court.

This is a momentous time in our nation's history. The next justice
will have enormous influence on a woman's medical decisions, the rights
of workers and consumers, the civil and privacy rights of us all, the
enforcement of our environmental laws, how our elections are conducted,
and nearly every other aspect of our lives.

We cannot allow the independence of our courts to be threatened by a
judicial activist who places personal ideology above the law. The
Supreme Court is no place for fringe judges. And the Senate is not a
rubber stamp for any president's nominations.

Join me in calling for inclusive, thoughtful deliberations during this

The Constitution requires that the President seek the Senate's advice
and consent in making appointments to the federal courts. As a Senator
and as the Democratic leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I take
this responsibility very seriously.

America must maintain separate but equal branches of government. Neither
the legislature, nor the judiciary, should be subjugated to the will of
any president - or to the loudest wing of any political party.

In recent years, the President has chosen a path of confrontation rather
than consultation with the Senate.

I voted against Janice Rogers Brown, a judge quoted telling conservative
audiences that the New Deal "mark[ed] the triumph of our own socialist
revolution," and that elderly Americans who depend on Social
Security "blithely cannibalize their grandchildren."

I voted against Priscilla Owen, a judge who inserts her opinions into
the law so freely that President Bush's own attorney general once called
her behavior "unconscionable ... judicial activism."

Once again, the power to avoid political warfare over a judicial nominee
-- this time to the Supreme Court -- is in the hands of the President.
The process begins with him.

President Bush will decide whether there will be a divisive or unifying
process and nomination. If consensus is a goal, bipartisan consultation
will help achieve it. I believe that is what the American people want
and what they deserve. The President can unite the nation and the Senate
with his choice, or he can once again divide us.

Join me in calling for meaningful consultation between the President and
Senators on both sides of the aisle at:

If the President chooses a Supreme Court nominee because of that
nominee's ideological fervor or record of activism in the hope that he
or she will deliver political victories, the President will have done so
knowing that he is again choosing the path of confrontation. He will do
so knowing that we will once again be forced to defend our belief that
the Supreme Court should not be an arm of either political party. It
belongs to all Americans.

If the right-wing activists who were disappointed that their nuclear
option was averted convince the President to choose a divisive nominee,
they will not prevail without a difficult Senate battle. And if they do,
what will they have wrought? The American people will be the losers:
The independence of and respect for the judiciary will have suffered a
damaging blow from which the judiciary may not soon recover.

We need to send a message that the Supreme Court should be above such
partisan politics at:

The President and Republican leaders have a choice: choose a battle that
divides America, or seek a middle ground with a nominee we all can trust
to fairly interpret and uphold the Constitution and the law. Let the
Senators who will make this important decision know that America doesn't
want us to rubber stamp the President's nominee. Tell them now:

I will be working with Democracy for America during this historic period
to keep you up to date on the Senate's deliberations. If you would like
to send me your thoughts during this debate, please do so at:

Thank you,

Senator Patrick Leahy
Ranking Democratic Member, Senate Judiciary Committee


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