Via How Appealing, the Baltimore paper had this commentary from a law professor at the University of Maryland Law School on the Maryland senators' appearance at the Senate judiciary committee hearing on the nomination of Claude Allen to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The professor wrote, among other things:
"IN AN electrifying hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Maryland Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes exposed the ugly side of a long-standing and important battle over judicial nominations to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
. . .
Mr. Bush's failure to nominate a Marylander to the open seat is emblematic of the way the Republicans have played fast and loose with geographic, racial and political diversity on the 4th Circuit for 10 years. Maryland has two judges on the court. Mr. Sarbanes says it should have three because of Maryland's population.
. . .
Without question, Ms. Mikulski and Mr. Sarbanes are fighting for geographic as well as ideological diversity on the 4th Circuit. Maryland's most prominent lawyers and jurists tend not to be conservative, at least not conservative enough for the Federalist Society lawyers that some say vet all of President Bush's potential nominees behind the scenes.
. . .
That the 4th Circuit is widely considered the most conservative in the nation makes the issue of what kind of judge will replace Mr. Murnaghan even more significant. We should be seeking ideological balance, not ideological domination on our circuit courts.
That Mr. Allen is black does not allay the concerns raised by Maryland's senators. In fact, the president's cynical use of race to undercut opposition to his conservative nominees even further debases the judicial nomination process.
Racial diversity is important -- indeed, essential -- to the legitimacy of our judiciary. But racial diversity used as a political wedge, as in the first President Bush's nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, creates long-lasting bitterness from which neither the public nor the nominee is likely to recover soon.
The lesson from Mr. Bush's successful nomination of Allyson K. Duncan as the first black woman to the 4th Circuit earlier this year is that when his nominees are distinguished, aren't extremists and are forthcoming with the Judiciary Committee about their records, the president receives remarkably little opposition from the Democrats.
. . . The administration would do well to withdraw Mr. Allen's nomination and return the Maryland seat to Marylanders."