The Washington Post has an interesting article on the changing composition of the 4th Circuit Court, which fits in well with the argument I made yesterday that appointments should require a super-majority Senate vote. The article implicitly notes that judges are observed to have strong “liberal” or “conservative” biases which correlate strongly with the ideology of the president who appointed them and that those biases have significant impacts on the precedent setting rulings they make. The 4th Circuit Court in particular, which was conservative but is now even split, has played an important role in the legalities involved in the administration’s “war on terror.” The article points out:

the court has played a key role in terrorism cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.


a three-judge panel supported Bush’s detention of “enemy combatant” Yaser Esam Hamdi, a U.S. citizen captured with Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan who, at that point, had not seen a lawyer

The article also shows that I am not the only one who thinks centrist appointments are possible:

Liberal groups said Bush can still shape the 4th Circuit, and they called on him to nominate consensus candidates likely to win Senate approval. 

I also call on the president to nominate consensus candidates. In general, however, if appointments are consistently partisan (which they are) we should focus on changing the rules for appointments instead of focusing on convincing individual appointers. As I argued yesterday, changing the required Senate approval for appointments from a simple majority to a large super-majority would go a long way towards encouraging centrist appointments.