Elsewhere in Sunday's Reuters article on stepped-up auto industry lobbying, we found another interesting tidbit concerning the industry's legal prospects: the reality that executives believe the Supreme Court is their best legal hope, though the judiciary may become less friendly depending on the results of this fall's election.
In other words, industry realizes that its legal arguments are going nowhere in the courts given the relevant law and precedent, and will potentially wither away depending on what kinds of judges are appointed and confirmed. In the interim, the balance of the federal judiciary remains in question due to 45 existing vacancies, a matter pressed last night in President Bush's final State of the Union address. While Bush insists that he has submitted nominees "who will rule by the letter of the law, not the whim of the gavel," the Boston Globe notes suspicions otherwise a thoughtful editorial:
If President Bush is serious about filling vacancies on the court before his term ends, he would be wise to send over candidates with greater bipartisan appeal. Nominating such judges would also be politically shrewd, for it would increase pressure on Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve his nominees.
Instead, Bush has missed good opportunities to do just that. For a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the president last year offered the name of Virginia lawyer E. Duncan Getchell. The nominee recently took himself out of consideration, claiming that the Senate Democratic leadership would not let his hearing proceed.
Getchell's nomination was the most publicized of this trend, but hardly the only recent example, as Judging the Environment has tracked assiduously. We've done our part to raise concerns about one particular example, 4th Circuit nominee Steve A. Matthews, and his long-standing ties to those who oppose any and all regulation related to climate change (and, for that matter, would seem to deny its existence). Court appointments should be a venue not for ideologues with a potential predisposition toward climate skepticism, but for judges who will base their rulings on the law, plain and simple.