Politicians Putting Partisanship Ahead of Country
Alan Jilka - Thu 12:29 PM 08/11/2011
The question seemed straight-forward enough. After all, two evenings earlier on national television Pastor Rick Warren had asked the same of the Presidential candidates, Senators Obama and McCain. But there was Senator Pat Roberts, on the federal government payroll since he graduated from college over fifty years ago, nearly thirty years in elected federal office – stumped, speechless.
The occasion was a meeting of the Salina Rotary Club in August of 2008. The question was this one. “Name one instance when you went against your party, and maybe your own political best interests, and did something you felt was necessary for the good of the country?”
After a long pause Senator Roberts finally stammered that he had voted earlier in the summer to override President Bush’s veto of a bill providing funding for agricultural programs. But then he added that since the President had vetoed the bill maybe there wasn’t a Republican position on the particular measure. In conclusion he made a few comments about the disappointing partisanship in Washington.
This incident came to mind this past week when Senator Roberts issued a statement explaining his decision to oppose the nomination of former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six to the Federal Court of Appeals. Maybe he deserves a little credit for at least explaining his reasons. Kansas’ other senator, Jerry Moran, not being up for reelection for another five years, apparently feels no need to answer to his constituents/bosses for his action.
In his press release Senator Roberts hardly makes any attempt to conceal the fact that he helped scuttle the Six nomination for purely partisan reasons. He focuses his largely on Six’s decision as Attorney General not to involve Kansas in a lawsuit challenging the new Healthcare Reform Law. According to Roberts, “ . . . the average person can identify the constitutional defects in Obamacare.”
Really Senator? Roberts neglected to mention that in the most recent court ruling regarding Healthcare Reform, Republican Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the 6th Circuit of Appeals in Cincinnati sided with his Democratic colleague, Judge Boyce Martin, Jr., and ruled that the new Healthcare bill is constitutional. Sutton was a George W. Bush appointee and was confirmed on April 3, 2003 with the support of the same Senator Roberts. Worth noting is that Judge Sutton graduated at the top of his class from Ohio State Law School, and previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Steve Six’s qualifications are there for all to see. He has received the highest ratings from the American Bar Association, as well as the endorsements of the current and former deans of KU Law School. A letter signed by a bi-partisan group of twenty-nine of his State Attorney General colleagues, and others including former Republican Kansas Attorney General Bob Stephan was released in support of his nomination.
As Kansas Attorney General Six rebuilt the office from the wreckage of his two predecessors. Phill Kline had neglected the majority of the office’s functions while spending most of his time crusading against abortion. And Paul Morrison had been forced out by a sex scandal.
Both Senators Roberts and Moran had initially supported the Six nomination. But, if press reports are to be believed, the state’s major anti-abortion groups pressured both to oppose Six. Roberts’ statement alludes to abortion, implicitly criticizing Six for not running the office in the manner of Kline.
Something is clearly wrong when a lifetime politician like Roberts scuttles the judicial nomination of a highly-qualified and good man. Sadly, we’ve had no shortage lately of politicians in Washington putting partisanship ahead of country.