Is the confirmation process for Supreme Court justices getting out of hand? Is it becoming too much of a political campaign? It sure looks like it is in the present case of Judge Clarence Thomas. There is more overt and covert politicking going on here than in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Consider that a conservative organization in Washington paid to bring 45 of Judge Thomas' old neighbors from his little home town of Pin Point, Ga., to Washington to show their support and pride and to lobby for him. A pure media event. Consider that Judge Thomas has personally visited 59 senators to seek their votes. Consider that he met privately with representatives of the NAACP and was asked pointed questions about his views on legal issues. We think he was wrong to go to such a meeting -- what a precedent! -- but at least he refused to answer the questions.
Meanwhile, numerous other special interest groups have already announced their support or opposition to the nomination, including one created just for the occasion: Women for Thomas. That is pure politics. There had already been approximately 80 individual group endorsements and oppositions to this nomination before the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights announced a "consensus" opposition among its 185 organizations. Some seemed based on the narrowest of grounds, even on a single issue. In some cases those speaking for groups are not necessarily representative of them.