In discussing the recent Senate agreement on judicial nominations, which "encourage[s] the executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination," Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley falsely claimed that such consultation "hasn't been the practice in the recent past" because former President Bill Clinton "did not seek out" Republican support before choosing to nominate Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court.
In fact, Clinton consulted then-Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) before nominating both Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer [The Wall Street Journal, 5/3/05]. Hatch even claimed in a June 17, 2003, C-SPAN interview that he "was the one who recommended Breyer and Ginsburg to the president," a claim he also made in his memoir Square Peg: Confessions of a Citizen Senator (Basic Books, 2002, p. 180). The Los Angeles Times documented Hatch's involvement in Ginsburg's nomination at the time, in a June 16, 1993, article:
Rallied in large part by Ginsburg's husband, Martin, a prominent tax lawyer and Georgetown University law professor, the judge's friends began deluging the White House with letters and telephone calls urging a second look. ... Clinton also heard from conservatives, including Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who recommended Ginsburg as the sort of moderate the Senate could easily support. Last Tuesday, as Clinton's list narrowed, White House aides began an intensive process to check Ginsburg's finances, her background and her writings.
Blankley's false claim came during a panel discussion on the May 25 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews that featured two conservatives and one centrist: Blankley, New York Post Washington bureau chief Deborah Orin and Washington Post columnist and associate editor David Ignatius, whom host Chris Matthews himself labeled a "man of the middle."
Matthews, who has frequently repeated conservative talking points during the filibuster debate, failed to correct Blankley's misstatement, even though earlier in the program Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) had noted that Hatch had given his consent to Breyer and Ginsburg before they were nominated.