Addressing a group of Mormon lawyers in Boston on Friday night Kenneth Starr charted the Republican strategy for dealing with Obama’s nominees for the Supreme Court. The Mormon Times reports:
Starr pointed out, “the salience of this very enviable position, politically, for our President is brought home by the President’s own approach to the high court during his years of service as a United States senator.” He continued, “There is one historical factoid of note: He is the first president of the United States ever in our history to have participated in a Senate filibuster of a judicial nominee. Never before has that happened.” Starr cited a November article in The Washington Times about the problems Obama faces, quoting, “Senate Republicans say the president-elect’s voting record and long simmering resentments over Democrats’ treatment of President Bush’s nominees will leave Mr. Obama hard-pressed to call for bipartisan help confirming judges or even an up-or-down vote.”
Note that the identity and qualification of the nominees is totally irrelevant. They will be opposed to the hilt, and presumably—if every single Republican in the Senate can be held in line—through a filibuster. And Starr’s claim that Obama participated in a filibuster is, as might be expected, erroneous—although he did support the idea of one.
These remarks may or may not portend the Republican strategy in addressing judicial nominees. But they certainly tell us an awful lot about Ken Starr. One would think, for instance, that the identity of the nominee and his or her qualifications and life experience would be relevant factors to take into account before deciding how to proceed. But evidently not to Starr.
He resigned a lifetime appointment to the bench and became the Whitewater special prosecutor. During the course of his handling of the matter, pubic opinion turned sharply against him as his management of the entire affair turned transparently political and staggeringly petty. In the course of his handling of the matter, he established a public relations office, and the federal judge supervising the matter took note of the steady stream of secret grand jury materials which were only in the possession of Starr’s office to friendly media. This is a violation of conventional standards of prosecutorial ethics and a possible crime as well; Starr’s views of his own ethical obligations were so stilted and self-serving that his long-time friend and ethics advisor Sam Dash resigned in protest.
If the Democrats want a poster child for their image of the Republican opposition–the bitter old White Southern man, driven by a thirst for revenge–here’s Ken Starr. All things considered, we should at least be thankful that he’s no longer sitting as a judge.