Say it isn't so

Is Bush eyeing John "They Shoot Judges, Don't They?" Cornyn for a seat on the Supreme Court?

Published June 7, 2005 3:52PM (EDT)

We've all heard some of the names on George W. Bush's Supreme Court short list. There's J. Michael Luttig and J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Michael McConnell of the 10th Circuit, John Roberts Jr. of the District of Columbia Circuit, Emilio Garza of the Fifth Circuit and a handful of other judges from hither and yon.

Then there's this rather novel candidate: Texas Sen. John Cornyn. Legal Times mentioned Cornyn as a possible contender last week, and the Houston Chronicle picks up the story today. A Cornyn aide says his boss "is very happy being a senator" but wouldn't rule out the possibility of serving on the Supreme Court someday.

It's the rest of us who ought to be ruling it out.

It was Cornyn, after all, who wondered recently whether the recent spate of violence against judges and their families might be the fault not of crazed criminals but rather of an out-of-control judiciary. "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection," Cornyn said in April, "but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have."

It is Cornyn who, whenever the occasion requires it, will say anything -- regardless of its truth or falsity -- to advance the agenda of George W. Bush and the religious right. During the "nuclear option" debate, Cornyn was frequently on the Senate floor, declaring -- entirely falsely, as it turns out -- that filibusters of judicial nominees were somehow "unprecedented." And it was Cornyn who took to the Senate floor back in February to express his befuddlement over how anyone could be opposed to the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general and to criticize Democrats -- a "political insurgency" -- for not helping Republicans usher in a "new beginning" of bi-partisanship.

When Senate moderates stuck a deal last month to avert the nuclear option, Cornyn predicted that it might be short lived. If Bush nominates Cornyn to the Supreme Court, he may well be right.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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