Conservative NY Post Joins National Review in Criticizing Attack on Hormel

A Stupid Confirmation Battle, Editorial, The New York Post

June 10, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

While Congress was in recess last week, President Clinton named the openly gay James C. Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. That bypassed the Senate confirmation process – so Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) has declared that all of Clinton's standing civilian nominations will be blocked until the president agrees to forswear such "recess appointments."

As the saying goes, you've got to choose your battles wisely. And Inhofe has picked a stupid and misguided battle.

Some conservatives may not want to have Hormel representing them in Luxembourg, but the Senate's Byzantine system of nomination-blocking refused them an actual vote on the issue for almost two years.

Clinton was entitled to use the constitutional loophole of a recess appointment, and he did.

If the Senate wants to make trouble about Clinton's appointments, it should reopen public discussion of Bill Lann Lee, now serving illegitimately as Clinton's assistant attorney general for civil rights.

In 1997, the president sent Lee's nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it failed to receive enough votes to allow a vote on the Senate floor. Instead of withdrawing the nomination or declaring Lee a recess appointment – which would have given him about a year at the post – Clinton declared Lee the "acting" Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

That is a clear and shocking violation of the Constitution's "advise and consent" clause. Hormel's appointment to this insignificant ambassadorship, by contrast, was a violation of nothing.

Using senatorial alchemy to block all future confirmations is a misuse of power comparable to Clinton's Bill Lann Lee maneuver, and Inhofe should cut it the hell out.