Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lloyd Cutler's Wisdom

Lloyd Cutler died on May 8. He was an influential Democrat in Washington, an adviser to presidents, and a intelligent and insightful observer of the political scene. He contributed class and common sense to politics, and he'll be missed. In an editorial on May 16, the Washington Post offered a few quotes from Cutler that merit reflection, including these two on judicial nominations:

While the president must appoint and the Senate must confirm or reject each nominee, it is vital to the integrity of the process that neither they nor the rest of us insist on knowing in advance how a new justice is going to vote in a particular case. The key to the court's critical constitutional role lies in the mystery of its future actions. If the justices appear to have committed their votes to the president, who appoints them, or to the Senate, which confirms them, we will no longer trust them as our ultimate authority on the Constitution's meaning. (Aug. 2, 1990)

There is no question that thoughtful scrutiny of judicial nominees is justified and is indeed the Senate's duty. . . . Ultimately, however, vacancies on the federal bench need to be filled. Judgeships sometimes remain open for two or three years. . . . Delay in confirming judges means justice delayed for individuals and businesses, and, combined with the bitter nature of some confirmation battles, it may deter many qualified candidates from seeking federal judgeships. (March 13, 2002)

Sounds right to me.


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