A ‘boker tov’ moment for NCJW, Reform on presidential nominees


Presidents nominate, the Senate holds.

This often occurs for reasons having nothing to do with the nominee, but to force the White House to deal with one parochial issue or another — a single senator has the right to place a hold on a nominee, and will do so if he wants to hurry along some favor to his state.

Sometimes, in periods of acrimony, there may be a concerted effort by one party to hobble the other’s president; other times, especially after periods of scandal, lawmakers want to make it clear that they are vetting nominees closely.

It’s not a new problem. The Brookings Institution’s Paul Light, who is probably the foremost expert on the issue, dates the intensification of delayed nominations to the Kennedy administration.

Three Jewish groups — the National Council of Jewish Women, the Union of Reform Judaism and Women of Reform Judaism — today joined a slate of civil rights groups asking Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate minority leader, to drop obstacles to nomnations:

President Obama has worked with the Senate on a bipartisan basis to select extraordinarily well-qualified judicial nominees who could easily be confirmed by widespread margins and begin serving the public, if brought to a vote before the full Senate.

In addition, a significant number of nominees to positions in the President’s administration, including high-level positions in the Department of Justice, have not yet been confirmed. Obstructing important executive branch nominees through filibusters or anonymous holds frustrates the legitimate business of government. This obstruction grows increasingly problematic as we approach the ninth month of President Obama’s administration.

This is odd for three reasons:

*Why are the groups making this a partisan issue? Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, is also holding some nominees. I’m sure there are other Democratic holds as well.

*Where were these groups during the Bush administration? According to the AP, Obama’s rate of nomination success — admittedly slooooow — is the same as Bush’s at this time.

*The NCJW, especially, made a moral case for holding Bush judicial nominees. This letter is cast not in terms of Obama’s nominees being superior, but in terms of good government and executive privilege. What gives?

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