Wednesday, April 9, 2003

The 19-0 vote of the Senate Judiciary Committee for Ed Prado shows that moderate judges will win approval.

A tale of two Texas judges

San Antonio Express-News
April 9, 2003

In the nomination of U.S. District Judge Edward Prado for the Louisiana-based 5th Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals, President Bush has found a fail-proof strategy for selecting federal judges.

Prado faced no opposition from the Senate Judiciary Committee - or anyone else for that matter - because, unlike some of the president's other recent nominees, Prado is well-qualified with a long record of fairness and moderation.

Unfortunately, the full Senate will be consumed this week with bitter debate over another White House judicial nominee - Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, who has a different kind of record. Instead of moderation, Owen is known for her conservative activism.

Opposition to Owen was so strong that her nomination was rejected last year. This year's Republican-led Judiciary Committee resuscitated it, giving Owen a slim 10-9 party-line vote.

It's not as though Democrats are opposed to all White House nominees. After all, the same committee voted 19-0 in favor of Prado.

Now Democrats in the Senate appear likely to filibuster Owen's nomination. Once again, the battle over the White House's judicial nominees is gridlocked.

To avoid this kind of partisan strife, the Bush administration should employ the Prado strategy for future judicial nominees.

That strategy is to choose moderate nominees with long experience who understand that the role of judge is not to legislate from the bench.