Liberals Fight Back Against Obama Court Nominees

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Democrats may have done away with the filibuster for judicial nominees, but the infamous blue-slip procedure remains alive and well. This means that Republican senators can still block nominees unless President Obama cuts some kind of deal with them. That’s exactly what Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson have done for the past several years, so in 2013 the White House negotiated a compromise with them. They agreed to approve several of Obama’s judicial nominees in return for getting their way on one of them. Now liberals are pissed:

Liberals are incensed that the administration is pushing hard for Michael Boggs, a judge on Georgia’s state Court of Appeals, to join the federal bench in Georgia. Boggs, a conservative Democrat, voted while in the state Legislature to reinstate a version of the Confederate flag as the state flag, opposed same-sex marriage and took positions on abortion that critics say would have limited women’s rights.

….As that fight plays out, prominent senators from both parties, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, are trying to block, or at least delay, a planned vote on Harvard law professor David Barron, whom Obama has nominated to be a judge on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from New England. As a Justice Department lawyer, Barron wrote at least one memo that provided the legal justification for the targeted killing of Anwar Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was slain by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

In one sense, it’s hard to know what liberals expect here. Boggs is obviously not a good nominee, but it’s not as if Obama is in love with the guy. He just agreed to swallow hard and nominate him in return for getting support for four others. Since there’s nothing Obama can do about the blue-slip rule, he didn’t have much choice about it. As for Barron, it’s hard to be too shocked over his nomination. Obama himself approved the killing of Awlaki and has vigorously defended it. Of course he supports Barron.

But in another sense, it’s good to see liberals fighting back. Maybe it won’t do any immediate good, just as it doesn’t always do any good for tea partiers to harass mainstream Republicans. But if the fight is rough enough, it sets boundaries for future nominations. That’s probably the main benefit of opposition in this case: Both of these nominees might be approved anyway, but at least the White House will know they’ve been in a scrap. Maybe next time they’ll think twice.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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