Advice and Consent: The Bush Way


Yesterday, the White House announced it would nominate E. Duncan Getchell, Jr., to a seat on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. But as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports today, Getchell was not on a list of five possible nominees submitted to the White House by Virginia Sens. John Warner (R) and Jim Webb (D). Instead, Getchell had appeared on an earlier list submitted to the White House by Warner and then-Sen. George Allen (R), who Webb defeated last year:

“Today, despite our good faith, bipartisan effort to accommodate the president, the recommendations that Senator Warner and I made have been ignored,” Webb said last night.

“The White House talks about the spirit of bipartisanship. . . . The White House cannot expect to complain about the confirmation of federal judges when they proceed to act in this manner,” Webb added.

Webb said he and Warner jointly interviewed more than a dozen attorneys, received ratings of candidates from bar groups and submitted five “outstanding” names.

Warner is not happy either, the paper reports:

Warner said in a terse statement, “I steadfastly remain committed to the recommendations stated in my joint letter with Senator Webb to the president, dated June 12, 2007, and I have so advised in a respectful, consistent manner in my consultations with the White House senior staff.”

The White House and the Senate leadership worked out a deal before the summer recess that the President would not make any recess appointments provided that the Senate moved on some of the President’s nominations. It’s not clear whether this is one such nomination, but the irony would be rich if it were.

One other point to be made. As the Times-Dispatch notes, a third of the 4th Circuit seats are open at the moment, which has left the reliably conservative appeals court evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. So the appointment of a Federalist Society member like Getchell, if confirmed, would help sway the idealogical bent of the court back to where the GOP base would like it to be–staunchly conservative.


David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.