MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to judicial nominations. Again, Harry Reid on National Public Radio, November 19: "If they"--the Bush White House--"for example, gave us Clarence Thomas as chief justice, I personally feel that would be wrong. If they give us Antonin Scalia, that's a little different question. I may not agree with some of his opinions, but I agree with the brilliance of his mind."
Could you support Antonin Scalia to be chief justice of the Supreme Court?
SEN. REID: If he can overcome the ethics problems that have arisen since he was selected as a justice of the Supreme Court. And those ethics problems--you've talked about them; every people talk--every reporter's talked about them in town--where he took trips that were probably not in keeping with the code of judicial ethics. So we have to get over this. I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy. And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute. So...
MR. RUSSERT: Why couldn't you accept Clarence Thomas?
SEN. REID: I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.
Is that the tack the Democrats are going to take if Scalia or Thomas is nominated to succeed Chief Justice Rehnquist? Scalia has an ethics problem, and Thomas is an "embarrassment"? Roundly acknowledge that Scalia is brilliant, but slur Thomas as someone who can't even put his written opinions together?? It is my observation that liberals tend to lapse into the lazy belief that those who don't agree with them must be stupid or evil, and to me Reid's remarks look a bit like that. But I realize the Senators can't get away with opposing a judicial nomination on the ground that they simply disagree with their opinions. They've got to say the person either has an ethical problem or isn't smart enough. I'm prepared to put up with the Democrats hashing through the duck hunting controversy if Scalia is nominated, but to attack Thomas's intelligence is shameless. Even now, Reid is signaling to the President not to choose Thomas. Reprehensible!
UPDATE: Calling attention to Reid's attack on Thomas are: CNN, Washington Post.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Stuart Buck comments on Reid's remarks and quotes lawprof Mark Tushnet as saying, "It's nearly impossible to find anyone who is dispassionate about Justice Thomas." I'm glad he said "nearly." Let me make it easy for people to find someone: I'm dispassionate about Justice Thomas!