Thursday, April 21, 2005

David Broder makes the hard-to-fathom argument that the fight over appellate court nominations has more to do with keeping the interest groups of both the right and left engaged than with any real ideological fight over the composition of the federal bench. He argues that, with Supreme Court nominations coming up so infrequently, fighting over the more often occuring appellate court nominations is necessary to keep contributions flowing into the accounts of various interest groups.

Yes David, it's all a big sham. No one really cares about who sits on the appellate bench. Interest groups of both sides met together one night on the Hill and came up with the idea of pretending to fight over nominations in order to fleece their supporters out of hard-earned dollars.

Broder is right that very few people can name one of those judges. But I guarantee that, while people may not be able to name names, they take notice over the rulings issued by these judges. When the 9th Circuit ruled that mentioning God in the Pledge of Allegience was unconstitutional, Americans were ticked off. When another Circuit refused to overrule the District Judge who refused to intervene in the Schiavo case, people took notice... even if they couldn't tell you the name of any of those judges or the President who nominated them.

With Federal District Judges making up things as they go along, the Courts of Appeals have become the first line of defense or reinforcement (depending on whether you like how the District Judge ruled or not). How a particular panel rules goes a long way to determining whether the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case. It goes a long way to framing the debate and possibly shaping the outcome of a case argued before the Supreme Court (witness the arguments about the composition of the Circuit Court in the Michigan affirmative action cases).

The nominations to appellate positions are more bitterly fought over these days because they mean more than they used to. It's that simple...