One does not need to be a rocket scientist to determine Joe Biden’s judicial and executive branch nomination philosophy. With the evidence he’s given us, in the form of the nominations he’s made and the executive order he signed, his approach to nominations is clear – he practices what he preaches. He prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion, critical social justice theory, and ideology and partisanship over experience and competence.
That’s an all-in, swing-for-the-fences strategy. Sometimes it can work. See, for example, the newest addition to the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. She was promoted to Biden by progressive groups because she had spent years as a public defender and would, therefore, enhance the “professional diversity” they sought to add to the Court.
On the other hand, swinging for the fences also regularly results in more strikeouts. Choosing more radical and ideological nominees who “check a box” on someone’s DEI form over more experienced and competent nominees can end up backfiring – just ask Gigi Sohn and Phil Washington, two Biden nominees whose nominations failed because they couldn’t even count on support from all the Democrats in the Senate.
Was Sohn nominated because she is lesbian? Who knows? It certainly didn’t hurt. In making the selection, Biden was fulfilling the wishes of something called “the LGBTQ Victory Institute,” which claims to have organized more than 30 LGBTQ organization to pressure Biden to nominate Sohn to the FCC.
Biden nodded to her sexual orientation in the press release his White House issued when he nominated her – in the very first paragraph of the statement, the release noted that “If she is confirmed, Gigi would be the first openly LGBTIQ+ Commissioner in the history of the FCC.”
It was a Senate Democrat who blocked Sohn’s nomination to fill an open seat on the Federal Communications Commission. Said West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin in announcing his decision to oppose her nomination, the FCC “must remain above the toxic partisanship that Americans are sick and tired of, and Ms. Sohn has clearly shown she is not the person to do that.”
And Washington simply never should have been nominated to serve as FAA Administrator in the first place.
As Senate Energy and Commerce Committee ranking Republican Ted Cruz pointed out during Washington’s confirmation hearings, Washington simply had no relevant experience to serve in the position.
Just as importantly, Cruz believed Washington’s priorities were misplaced: “With all respect, Mr. Washington,” said Cruz, “it gives no comfort to the flying public that their pilot might be a transgendered witch but doesn’t actually know how to prevent the plane from crashing into the ground and killing them.”
And again it was a lack of support from Senate Democrats – Montana’s Jon Tester and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema in particular – that killed the nomination.
As demonstrated by the Ketanji Brown Jackson nomination, Biden’s determination to install ideologues is not limited to filling openings in the alphabet soup of federal agencies. It extends to the federal judiciary, as well. See, for example, his nominations of Charnelle Bjelkengren and Kato Crews for federal district judgeships in Washington and Colorado, respectively.
Bjelkengren famously failed Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy’s grilling when she couldn’t tell him what either Article V or Article II of the Constitution does. (This is not advanced legal theory. This is rather basic stuff – Article V of the Constitution explains how the document can be amended, while Article II establishes the powers of the executive branch.)
Crews failed Sen. Kennedy’s test when he couldn’t tell Kennedy how he would analyze a Brady motion. (A Brady motion is a request by the defense in a criminal trial for the prosecution to turn over any exculpatory evidence it might have in its possession. It comes from a case decided by the Supreme Court in 1963, so it’s been around for a while.)
In the batter’s box now is Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su, Biden’s nominee to fill the open slot left by the departure of her former boss, former Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. Like Sohn, and Washington, and Crews, and Bjelkengren, and others, Su’s nomination is another example of Biden choosing a radical ideologue and partisan over experience and competence.
Su’s experience comes from her time as California Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. While there, she oversaw the Employment Development Department, which distributed a large portion of California’s COVID assistance funds.
On her watch, scam artists stole $32 billion. Why did the state’s unemployment insurance fund lose that money? in the words of one analyst, “The proximate cause of the EDD’s sudden breakdown was Su’s determination that checking a beneficiary’s eligibility for unemployment payments would likely exacerbate social inequality.”
In other words, Su’s radical ideology, as applied to a very real problem of fund distribution, led to the loss of $32 billion in taxpayer monies.
Is that the kind of “experience” we want to put in charge of a department whose inspector general hasalready informed Congress that between 2020-2021, the department lost $191 billion to unemployment fraud?
Too many of Biden’s nominees share this disturbing characteristic – they have been chosen because of their“box checking” place in the progressive firmament and their determination to advance Biden’s progressive political agenda, not because of their experience or their ability to do the job. Julie Su’s nomination is no different.
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