Perhaps we were overly optimistic -- maybe even a bit naive -- in suggesting last week that state Superior Court Judge Ralph Beistline would have a quick and easy time en route to confirmation as a new member of the U.S. District Court in Alaska.
There's no question about his qualifications. He already has proved himself an able and distinguished trial court judge since his appointment to the Superior Court in October 1992. Personally and professionally, he is high quality all around -- a perfect choice to move up to the federal bench.
So it was easy to say his confirmation route through the U.S. Senate should be a breeze.
What we were not aware of at the time is that Judge Beistline now has become one of 46 men and women nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush who have hit a roadblock in the Senate.
The hitch is Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He alone is stopping Senate action on all of these nominations -- playing a blatant game of political partisanship.
Despite all the pretensions of bipartisanship being claimed by Senate big shots, Leahy simply doesn't want the Republican president to fill any federal court vacancies.
Beistline, one of five judicial nominees submitted to the Senate by President Bush in November, is caught in this arrogant senator's net. So are five who were nominated in October, seven who were nominated in September, 10 who were nominated in August, one who was nominated in July, five who were nominated in June, and 13 whose names went to the Senate in May.
We can't speak to the qualifications of the other 45 nominees, but we do know that Judge Beistline is a superior choice for the federal bench. He should be confirmed without delay.
Sen. Leahy brings no distinction to himself by his politically motivated refusal to act on these nominations.
-- The Voice of the (Anchorage) Times
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