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Senator Heller, you blue-slipped up blocking judicial nominee

Senator Dean Heller, you’ve blocked Clark County District Judge Elissa Cadish’s nomination for a federal judgeship, and you didn’t have the guts to explain why?

Initially, you refused to say why you thought she’s unworthy of the federal bench. Then a question she answered about gun control in 2008 showed up in the news media as a “possible reason.”

The man whose position she would fill, U.S. District Judge Phillip Pro, thinks his former law clerk is worthy . Frankly, Pro knows a bit more about what makes a quality judge than you ever will.

Cadish does so well on judicial evaluations that as many as 88 percent of the attorneys who appear before her think she should be retained, a high rank from attorneys who have both won and lost cases before her. (Let me know when you get an 88 percent approval rating, senator.)

You’re one of the very few senators, according to judicial expert Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, who stopped a nomination in its tracks without explaining why.

“It’s not normal, but it does happen infrequently,” said Tobias. “Usually an explanation is given.”

Out of 180 judicial nominations during the Obama administration, only five senators have said no to a judicial nominee by blocking a hearing without providing a public reason. Both senators from the state must sign a blue slip before a Senate hearing can be held. Republican Heller refused.

This makes me question your judgment on this as well as other issues, as you seek to win your Senate seat the hard way, via election.

You’ve been thwacked in the news media for your Silent Sam act, and when I asked Thursday for an explanation of why you won’t explain, I was referred to a recent Las Vegas Sun story, where you danced around a direct question about your opposition to Cadish by saying, “I think that thing has played out in the press pretty accurately.”

You also told the Sun, “We do need to support federal candidates who support the Constitution.”

Really, you think she doesn’t?

Cadish, a Democrat, deserves enough respect that she should be allowed to answer your doubts in public. She has been vetted by the FBI and the White House, and the American Bar Association gave her a “unanimously qualified” rating. She’s no borderline, unqualified or crackpot candidate, yet you’ve insulted her and tarnished her reputation by your actions.

Tobias said, and I agree, the solution is for you to reconsider and sign the blue slip allowing her nomination to get a hearing. The Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee can ask your questions, and she can answer them under oath.

“The senator is not reconsidering,” Heller spokesman Stewart Bybee told me Thursday.

If you can’t accept Cadish’s written explanation that her answer about the constitutionality of gun ownership was based on the law at that time, that’s your call. However, gun laws seem to be mired in ever-evolving legal questions, which you don’t seem to grasp. Instead, you’ve dissed a woman who promised to abide by the law.

You’re not a lawyer; you barely know the legal and judicial community in Southern Nevada. But the widow who reared two children is respected in Southern Nevada.

Elissa Cadish is one of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s best nominees, not a political payback, but a proven winner with 20 years of legal experience, a judge since 2007.

You will lose votes over your dogmatic rejection of a qualified woman.

The irony is that you may not win many additional votes from Second Amendment advocates, because you were so vacuous and timid in your rejection. Whoever advised you on this did you no favors.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Morrison.

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