Is the fact that the NRA has tried to influence the confirmation process improper? It seems to me that the answer is “no,” just like it was not improper for abortion rights groups to try to block several of George W. Bush’s nominees. Of course, you can agree or agree with the NRA’s decisions on the merits. Again, you can say their ads were over-the-top given the relatively sparse record on the issue. But again, we expect advocacy groups to try to use their influence on political bodies like the Senate when rights that they see as central to their mission are up for grabs. Maybe that opposition is misguided. But there is nothing improper about the advocacy groups scoring the vote or taking a position on the nomination.
Or so it seems to me. According to her latest post, however, Linda Greenhouse has a very different reaction. Greenhouse expresses outrage at the National Rifle Association’s attempt to influence the judicial nominations process during the Obama Administration:
It is totally unacceptable for the N.R.A., desperate to hang on to its mission and its members after achieving its Second Amendment triumph at the Supreme Court four years ago, to be calling the tune on judicial nominations for an entire political party. Free the Republican caucus. . . . Call for an end to the cowardly filibuster against Caitlin Halligan, whose nomination the president resubmitted in September. The next time a senator announces opposition to a judicial nominee, demand something other than incoherent mumbo-jumbo. Tell the senator to fill in the blank: “I oppose this nominee because ____.” If there’s an answer of substance, fine. That’s advise-and-consent democracy. But if, upon inspection, the real answer is “because the N.R.A. told me to,” we have a problem. Based on these last few years, I think we do.