Getting Souter on the Job

September 23, 1990

Almost two months to the day after President Bush announced his choice of David Souter for the Supreme Court, the Senate Judiciary Committee finished its examination of him. If the committee votes on the nomination by Thursday, as its chairman, Sen. Joseph Biden, says he expects, and if the majority and minority leaders will limit the amount of time senators debate the nomination on the floor, Judge Souter can be on the bench in the court's first week of oral arguments. These begin Oct. 1. It would be in the national interest to have this ninth justice on the bench as soon as possible. If not the first week or arguments, at least by the second. Cases that already are in the queue to be heard those weeks would have to be reargued in the 1991-92 term if they ended up 4-4 because a ninth justice was not on the bench.

This may sound like we're urging a rush to justice, so to speak, but in this case we believe prompt decision-making is proper. There is no chance that floor debate is going to change any senator's mind. Judge Souter is going to be confirmed by an overwhelming vote. Several senators have already announced their support of him in floor speeches. Those few critics of the judge who seek reconvening of the hearings or lengthy floor debate are being unrealistic.

Some of those critics are probably getting a little tired of hearing that. With good cause, too. Sen. Alan Simpson of the Judiciary Committee began criticizing witnesses from women's groups before they had hardly gotten a word of testimony out of their mouths. He even criticized their body language and facial expressions. It was a most ungentlemanly performance. Sen. Strom Thurmond's gentlemanliness, on the other hand, was of the out-dated variety. He called the women witnesses "lovely ladies" and asked no substantive questions about their concerns. That's out of place in today's world, especially when discussing the issues the women raised, and he should know it. The purpose of committee hearings is for senators to listen fully and fairly -- and politely -- to all points of view about so important a nomination.

Judge Souter's brilliant but careful testimony left a lot of people wondering which bloc, if any, he would align himself with on the Supreme Court. The sooner he gets there, the sooner we'll know.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.