MIKE GREEN SHOULD BE ON THE FEDERAL BENCH
On Saturday, the United States Senate said, “No, thanks.”
In the matter of the judicial nomination of outgoing Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green, he got the polite thumbs down. His nomination, like that of an agency head and seven other potential judges, was sent back to the White House.
The message is clear.
These people aren’t going to be confirmed.
And, in the case of Mike Green at least, that is wrong.
Decency, common sense, political fairness, and any reading of the matter shout out that he is an honorable, capable nominee, and that he should be confirmed. He would make an excellent federal judge.
On behalf of the judicial district he would serve, I ask that the president renominate him and that the Senate confirm him. I am a conservative Republican supporting the nomination of a non-partisan centrist by a liberal-Democrat president.
When Barack Obama picked Mike Green, he got it right. When somewhere behind closed doors a Republican senator blackballed Mike Green, he got it wrong.
And I politely ask that things be set right.
First, the background on Mike Green.
In his heart, he’s a Republican. He is a traditional, short-haired, individual-responsibility, up-by-your-bootstraps conservative who believes in law and order and doing what is right. I know this by professional observation of almost his entire career, and by personal contact with the man.
Yes, he was elected district attorney as a Democrat, but that was only after the Republican Party rebuffed him, and that was only because of the personal animus of the Monroe County Conservative Party chairman, who has great influence in local Republican politics. Were it not for the bitter feelings of the Conservative Party chairman, Mike Green would have run and served as a Republican.
It is almost something of a surprise that Sen. Chuck Schumer and President Barack Obama supported and nominated Mike Green. It is a credit to them and their occasional ability to overlook politics that they did. It is unfortunate that that spirit has not been returned in this matter by the Republican half of the Senate.
Mike Green is a conservative who has spent his life locking up criminals, believes in following the letter of the Constitution and believes that judges should be neither activists nor legislators. In short, he is exactly the sort of person Republicans and conservatives want on the federal bench.
He is also esteemed across the legal profession of his region. He enjoys very high public approval and is both humble and personable.
And yet in the Senate Judiciary Committee, freshman Utah Sen. Mike Lee voted against him. The only public opponent of Mike Green, it is hard to see how Senator Lee could have either concern about or interest in this far-distant and low-level judgeship. That is particularly true given the presumed gratitude Senator Lee might feel toward President Obama, the Democrat having nominated the Republican’s aide to be United States attorney for Utah.
I hope that my support of Mike Green has not been an irritant to Senator Lee – I having endorsed Mike Lee’s opponent in the Republican primary.
Rumor has been that the Monroe County Republican Party chairman has asked Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley to block Mike Green’s nomination. The chairman has emphatically denied this. When I pressed him, he publicly said that he supported the nomination and thought that Mike Green would be an excellent federal judge.
Let me repeat that for the Republicans in the Senate: The chairman of the Monroe County Republican Party said on a 50,000-watt radio station that he supported Mike Green and thought that he should be confirmed.
On the subject of rumors, there have also been rumors that the FBI background investigation turned up matters which disqualified Mike Green. Those rumors are malicious and, if they had been true, the White House would have long ago yanked the nomination or told Mike Green to withdraw from consideration.
Having been nominated, Mike Green declined to run for re-election as district attorney. He has given up a career to accept this judgeship. It is wrong to now deny him.
It is wrong to deny the community and the cause of justice.
Mike Green is a good man. He is also capable and qualified. He is the sort of person we need on the federal bench.
He should remain the president’s nominee, and he should be confirmed by the Senate.
And whoever is keeping that from happening should stop. Be it a senator, or the chairman of one party or another, politics should be placed second to principle. This is not about spite, it is about service.
And Mike Green will render true service.
I hope that the president and the Senate understand that.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2011