A strange ruling from a strange judge

To cover up the embarrassing weakness of Judge Robart’s temporary restraining order, reporters at the Washington Post and elsewhere have trumpeted the fact that Robart was nominally appointed by President George W. Bush. They have done this to suggest that his ruling must have merit, because otherwise he would not have ruled against a President of the same party as the man who appointed him. But this is misleading, since Robart is a “staunchly liberal” judge whose appointment was “effectively forced on Bush” by liberal Senator Patty Murray in 2004, when Washington State had two liberal Senators.

The media ignores the fact that Robart’s appointment as a federal judge was championed by liberal Senators like Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who used Senatorial custom allowing senators to veto Presidential appointments of trial judges to obtain the appointment of liberal trial judges like Robart in Washington State. An April 13, 2005 press release by Murray touts Robart’s appointment as the “bipartisan” result of using a state commission to select federal trial judges in Washington, whose appointment Bush then rubberstamped. This Senatorial veto power, known as the “blue slip,” is an old tradition, dating back to at least 1917, that lets senators have a say on which trial judges are appointed to courts in their home state.

When Obama was president, the media did not do this. They would not cite the fact that Obama appointed a judge to suggest that the judge’s ruling against Obama had merit. When Judge James Boasberg ruled against the Obama IRS, few news stories mentioned the fact that he was a liberal Democrat appointed by Obama himself.