Federal Judges

August 18, 1999

On Monday, August 9, President Clinton spoke before the American Bar Association and caused quite a stir. Two weeks earlier he had been fined by a Federal Judge for contempt of court by intentionally lying to the Federal District Court. Many in attendance wondered if his presence damaged the ABA’s credibility and undermined the integrity of the legal profession.

But to me, the real controversy was a statement the president made at that event that cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. He talked about a “mounting vacancy crisis” and a “rising emergency” that threatens the administration of justice. In other words, the Republican Senate isn’t confirming my judges fast enough! They need to stop dragging their feet!

Well, Thomas Jipping (with the Coalition for Judicial Restraint) helps put this in perspective by comparing Bill Clinton’s record to Ronald Reagan’s record. President Clinton has appointed judges at the same rate as President Reagan’s first six years. Even if you look at the years in which each president faced an opposition Senate, the record is the same. The Republican Senate has confirmed an average of 43 Clinton nominees per year, and the Democratic Senate confirmed an average of 43 Reagan nominees per year.

Actually Clinton is ahead of Reagan. He has kept up with Reagan’s confirmation pace even though Clinton has faced an opposition Senate in five of his first seven years in office while Reagan faced an opposition Senate for just one of his first seven years.

Moreover, not one single Clinton nominee has been defeated, either in the Judiciary Committee or the full Senate. Ronald Reagan could not make that claim in his first seven years in office. President Clinton’s complaint about judicial confirmation is a smokescreen. The president has nothing to complain about.

I’m Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that’s my opinion.

© 1999 Probe Ministries International