Judicial NominationsWashington, as everyone knows, is an incredibly contentious place. This is especially true on Capitol Hill where it seems that at times, folks can scarcely agree on what day it is, much less on matters of state. Yet in this maelstrom exists a thing known by Capitol Hill savants as “UC,” or unanimous consent. Unanimous consent is a calendar or docket that the leaders of the House and Senate use for things that are not in dispute. Imagine how small that list can be in Washington these days. On the UC calendar you will often find things like the routine promotions of flag officers in the military and the naming of Post Offices and Federal buildings after long-dead luminaries. You get the idea: unanimous consent is for those things about which there is, well, unanimous consent, over which there is no dispute among Republicans and Democrats in a town where people dispute damn near everything.

OK, so why is this important? Because the nomination of John Roberts – President Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court – to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit just two years ago was done by unanimous consent. In other words, John Roberts’ nomination to one of the most important courts in the land was so non-contentious, such a no-brainer, the guy was so above debate or reproach that his nomination was handled by unanimous consent.

Do keep that in mind as you watch the gyrations in the coming months of Senators who easily supported his nomination two years ago but who now need to do the bidding of the various interest groups intent on opposing this good man. Sadly, as Democratic political adviser and fundraiser Steve Elmendorf was quoted in a story the other day entitled, George Mitchell: The Dems Supreme Point Man?,” talking about these interest groups, “They’re all trying to raise money. The groups have an interest in having a fight. If there’s no fight, there’s no money.”

Has it come to this..?

Some examples of a few recent UC items:

July 1: S.1275, a bill to designate the Alice Brusich Post Office Building in Ward Cove, Alaska. (editor’s note: Ward Cove, Alaska has a population of 13,193…bonus question for the class: what is Ward Cove, Alaska’s zip code?)

Jun 8: S.Res.164, a resolution to authorize the printing of a document entitled “Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate 138th Anniversary” (who ever knew 138th anniversaries warranted a celebration?)

Jun 9: S.Res.167, a resolution recognizing the importance of Sun Safety and designating the week of June 5-11, 2005 as “Sun Safety Week”

Jun 14: S.Res.161, a resolution to honor the life of Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. on the sesquicentennial of his birth

Jun 15: H.R.483, an Act to designate a U.S. Courthouse in Brownsville, TX as the “Reynaldo G. Garza and Filemon B. Vela U.S. Courthouse”

Jun 28th: S.Res.183, a resolution recognizing the achievements and contributions of the Migratory Bird Commission on the occasion of its 72nd Anniversary