Senate approval of judicial nominations took a step in the sane direction this week as eight Republicans voted with Democrats to break a GOP-led filibuster against Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew D. Hurwitz and his nomination to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hurwitz’s nomination had been blocked because Hurwitz supports abortion rights. “The much-criticized viability cut-off point that formed the basis of Roe came directly from Judge Newman’s opinion,” said Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary committee, later adding: “I think by any fair measure, it is impossible to read Justice Hurwitz’s article and not conclude that he wholeheartedly embraces Roe, and importantly, the constitutional arguments that supposedly support it. “
It is worth noting that Grassley is leading the charge against renewal of the Violence Against Women Act in the Senate for some context on how supportive the Senator is of women’s rights.
Among those who voted with Democrats were both Arizona Senators Jon Kyle and John McCain. The other Republicans who joined the vote were Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN.), Scott Brown (R-MA.), Susan Collins (R-ME), Richard Lugar (R-IN.), Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) also voted in favor, as did the Senate’s two independents, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Democrat and abortion-rights foe Joe Manchin (D-WV) broke with his party to oppose the confirmation.
Hurwitz’s nomination advancing is good news, but it’s too early to say that it is a sign Republicans are moving away from their extreme positions of the past three years on all matters of the federal judiciary and abortion rights. But for this moment a qualified and reasonable judge who has expressed his support of Roe is one step closer to filling a seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In our current political climate, that deserves some recognition.
Photo from dctim via flickr.