Be Careful What You Wish For…

May 18th, 2006at 09:30am Posted by Eli

Today’s NYT has an editorial about a Republican-sponsored bill to establish an inspector general for the federal judiciary. Said judiciary is a bit worried, needless to say, since investigations could potentially be used as a club against “activist judges” (liberal ones only, of course).

On the other hand, if the inspector were truly nonpartisan, he’d be looking at Scalia’s junkets and hunting trips (wherein he miraculously managed to avoid getting shot in the face despite his striking resemblance to a wild boar), and Alito’s refusal to recuse himself from cases involving his own stockholdings.

For precisely this reason, I assume that this bill gives Congress a very limited role in confirmation and oversight, or else its authors (Sensenbrenner and Grassley) are awfully confident that they will hold on to their majorities this fall.

Even so, what would happen if the Democrats retook the White House? This is potentially an even bigger weapon to hand to President Gore/Feingold/Clinton than the “nuclear option.” After all, the filibuster can only be invoked against new nominees, but an inspector general can investigate anybody. In fact, if his powers go far enough for him to remove judges, an inspector general would be an excellent mechanism for negating lifetime appointments (intended to eliminate political pressures on judges, remember).

Of course, a Republican president is probably much more likely to stoop to using an inspector general as a political hitman than a Democratic one, so maybe that’s why they’re not worried…

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Favorites,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans


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