SCOTUS Obstructionist Hugh Hewitt Once Lamented Conservative Media Effort To Deny A Vote To Bush SCOTUS Nominee

SCOTUS Obstructionist Hugh Hewitt Once Lamented Conservative Media Effort To Deny A Vote To Bush SCOTUS Nominee

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In 2005, conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt decried the fact that President George W. Bush's Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers didn't get an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and argued when "conservative pundits and activists" stopped her nomination, they weakened the ability of Republicans to argue against future Democratic nominees.

Hewitt's suggestion that even Miers, Bush's White House counsel, who activists considered insufficiently conservative and unqualified, should have gotten a vote raises questions about his current obstructionist position against any Obama nominee. (Miers was withdrawn by Bush before hearings were held.)

The day after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Hewitt published a column at Washington Examiner calling for Republicans in the Senate to refuse to hold a hearing or vote on any potential nominee named by Obama. Hewitt justified his stance with the claim that "Lame duck presidents don't get to make successful nominations for lifetime appointments in an election year. Not in 2016. Not for the past 80 years." Since the 2016 election has not occurred, Obama is not a lame duck. Furthermore, PolitiFact has rated this talking point "fundamentally misleading" because it falsely implies there is a tradition of not nominating or confirming nominees during an election year.

In any case, Hewitt's tone in 2005 was very different. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Hewitt wrote that Republicans' recent electoral successes "were attributable in large measure to the central demand made by Republican candidates, and heard and embraced by voters, that President Bush's nominees deserved an up-or-down decision on the floor of the Senate."

"Now, with the withdrawal of Harriet Miers under an instant, fierce and sometimes false assault from conservative pundits and activists, it will be difficult for Republican candidates to continue to make this winning argument: that Democrats have deeply damaged the integrity of the advice and consent process," Hewitt lamented.

According to Hewitt, "Voting for or against Ms. Miers would have forced Senate Democrats to articulate a coherent standard for future nominees. Now, the Democrats have free rein."

In blaming conservative media for the failure of Miers' nomination, Hewittt singled out the National Review's The Corner blog, which he wrote "unleashed every argument they could find" against Miers.

From the October 28, 2005, edition of The New York Times:

OVER the last two elections, the Republican Party regained control of the United States Senate by electing new senators in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. These victories were attributable in large measure to the central demand made by Republican candidates, and heard and embraced by voters, that President Bush's nominees deserved an up-or-down decision on the floor of the Senate. Now, with the withdrawal of Harriet Miers under an instant, fierce and sometimes false assault from conservative pundits and activists, it will be difficult for Republican candidates to continue to make this winning argument: that Democrats have deeply damaged the integrity of the advice and consent process.

The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left -- exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources -- will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around. Given the overemphasis on admittedly ambiguous speeches Miers made more than a decade ago, conservative activists will find it difficult to take on liberals in their parallel efforts to destroy some future Robert Bork.

Posted In
The Judiciary, The Presidency & White House, The Senate
Network/Outlet
Washington Examiner
Person
Hugh Hewitt
Stories/Interests
Supreme Court Nominations, 2016 Elections
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