What if you could get a noted conservative, like former former Federal Appeals Court Judge and Whitewater Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, to say that Senate Republican plans to address the Democratic filibusters of judicial nominations was “an assault on the judicial branch of government?” That’s just what this CBS video clip from the Monday edition of the CBS Evening News shows.
Here’s how the AP reported the second quote in the interview:
Kenneth Starr – an appeals court judge on the D.C. circuit from 1983-1989 – came out against the Republican plan to ban judicial filibusters on Monday. He told CBS Evening News that it is a “radical, radical departure from our history and our traditions, and it amounts to an assault on the judicial branch of government.”
Predictably that quote was added to the stack of quotes used in op-eds (mostly from Democrats), predicting dire consequences to a change in Senate rules. Of course since Starr is a noted conservative, his quote will get heavy play.
In case you’re thinking it all sounds too conveniently good to be true (much like a set of Texas Air National Guard documents magically appearing prior to the election), you’re right!
Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review Online though that was an odd thing for Starr to say, so he contacted him directly about the quote. Here’s part of the reply he received:
“In the piece that I have now seen, and which I gather is being lavishly quoted, CBS employed two snippets. The ‘radical departure’ snippet was specifically addressed — although this is not evidenced whatever from the clip — to the practice of invoking judicial philosophy as a grounds for voting against a qualified nominee of integrity and experience. I said in sharp language that that practice was wrong. I contrasted the current practice . . . with what occurred during Ruth Ginsburg’s nomination process, as numerous Republicans voted (rightly) to confirm a former ACLU staff lawyer. They disagreed with her positions as a lawyer, but they voted (again, rightly) to confirm her. Why? Because elections, like ideas, have consequences. . . . In the interview, I did indeed suggest, and have suggested elsewhere, that caution and prudence be exercised (Burkean that I am) in shifting/modifying rules (that’s the second snippet), but I likewise made clear that the ‘filibuster’ represents an entirely new use (and misuse) of a venerable tradition. . . .
“[O]ur friends are way off base in assuming that the CBS snippets, as used, represent (a) my views, or (b) what I in fact said.”Rush Limbaugh contacted Starr about his interview and relates this information about the second quote, from Starr:
I sat on Saturday with Gloria Borger for 20 minutes approximately, had a wide ranging, on-camera discussion. In the piece that I have now seen, and which I gather has been lavishly quoted, CBS employed two snippets. The ‘radical departure from our history’ snippet was specifically addressed to the practice of invoking judicial philosophy as a grounds for voting against a qualified nominee of integrity and experience. I said in sharp language that that practice was wrong.
If this is true, Gloria Borger, her segment producer, and anyone else associated with CBS’s deliberate mis-characterization of Starr’s remarks should be terminated.