U.S. Sen. Harry Reid said in a statement today that he won’t ask District Court Judge Elissa Cadish to withdraw her nomination to the federal bench, despite opposition from fellow Sen. Dean Heller. And Reid added that Cadish will sit down with Heller, presumably to discuss the senator’s objections to her nomination.
Here’s Reid’s statement:
“I will not ask Elissa Cadish to withdraw her nomination. She is supremely qualified and one of the most highly respected jurists in the state of Nevada. She deserves a hearing to defend herself. It is my hope that the process of her nomination is allowed to move forward and she is granted a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is my understanding that Senator Heller and Judge Cadish are going to meet and I am confident that will help resolve the issue.”
Heller has objected to Cadish’s answer to a 2008 questionnaire in which she said she did not believe in a personal right to own firearms under the Second Amendment. Heller–after a still-unexplained silence–finally admitted last week that her answer was the reason for his objections.
Reid’s confidence notwithstanding, Heller seemed adamant about not changing his opposition, even though Cadish said on the 2008 questionnaire and again this year in a letter to Reid that she would apply the law as written, guided by Supreme Court precedent, which is the job of a federal District Court judge.
Still, after watching Heller’s interview on Face to Face with Jon Ralston on Friday, I’d love to be a fly on the wall observing the senator quizzing the judge on the finer points of constitutional interpretation of the Second Amendment.
UPDATE: Heller told a Las Vegas audience today that he has no meeting set with Cadish, but that he does not intend to change his mind about her nomination. Here’s a clip from the Review-Journal:
“There is no meeting set,” Heller said. He said he could meet with Cadish but his aim would be to tell her personally why he is opposing her. ”I don’t have any reason not to meet with her to tell her why I don’t support her nomination,” he said.
No, there’s no reason whatsoever not to waste the judge’s time with what’s obviously a pointless meeting in which Heller can share his layman’s understanding of the Second Amendment, the job of a judge and other interesting topics.
What’s clear from this incident is that the Senate’s procedures must change. No longer should a senator (from the minority party, no less!) be able to block a judicial nomination by simply refusing to sign a piece of paper. Senatorial privilege belongs to Reid, as the senior senator of the president’s party; if he suggests a nominee and the president agrees, the nominee should go to the Judiciary Committee for hearings. If the committee reports out the nomination, Heller would be more than free to make his objections known on the floor when the nominee comes up for a vote. (It should be noted that this is a more transparent process than simply refusing to approve the nomination and, for several days, refusing to tell anybody why.)
Reid told me last week that the concurrence of both home-state senators was a Senate tradition. It’s time for a new tradition.