Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Reid Sets an Example

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that he will vote against the confirmation of John Roberts. This is exactly the kind of symbolic leadership the Democrats need. Roberts will likely be confirmed despite the protest of Reid and other likeminded Democrats, but opposing his nomination is a smart move on a couple of fronts.

First, Reid identified Roberts’s dubious stance on civil rights as a major strike against him. Reid’s position should hearten civil rights groups in this country and remind them that Democrats are willing to listen to their concerns--at least more willing than Republicans. Reid proved that in his mind--and by extension, in the Democratic party--civil rights are not up for debate.

Second, although he didn’t identify a single issue as the deal breaker, Reid cited the White House’s refusal to release certain memorandums authored by Roberts as a major reason for his opposition.

[H]e made plain that an important factor was the White House's refusal to release legal memorandums written by Judge Roberts when he was deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration. "The administration cannot treat the Senate with such disrespect without some consequences," he said.
Damn right. It remains to be seen whether the White House will be forthcoming with its next nomination, but Reid's statement sends the right message.

Roberts’s confirmation may be a foregone conclusion, but Reid is digging in his heels for the next nomination battle. It’s refreshing to see a Democrat willing to fight.

--Matthew McCoy