Whenever a judicial nominee appears before the Senate, there's a laundry list of questions they must answer. They're asked to give their opinions on anything from civil rights to free speech. And despite all of their knowledge and expertise, a judicial nominee's appointment can be destroyed if it turns out they ever used marijuana. But it appears that may change.
Last week a group of senators debated whether past marijuana use should be a disqualifying condition for judicial nominees. Many pointed out that the number of people who use cannabis is growing, and many successful and qualified nominees may be excluded for a relatively minor transgression.
“Over time, there’s been an evolving attitude in our society towards marijuana,” said Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. “And I suppose as I’ve looked at it over a period of time in which I’ve had this absolute prohibition attitude that I’ve demonstrated maybe not in public but in private about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that sometime down the road — and we may be down the road there now — that we, if [marijuana use is] the sole judgement of whether somebody ought to have a judgeship or not, or maybe any other position, we may not be able to find people to fill those positions.”
It's also a little ridiculous to continue to hold marijuana users in such disdain, particularly since the three U.S presidents before Donald Trump have all admitted to smoking cannabis, and two of them revealed they'd used even harder drugs. If the person occupying the highest position of power can have a history of marijuana use, why can't judges?
Of course, some Democrats noted that it's suspicious timing on Republicans to have such a change of heart on this rule. During the Obama administration, GOP Senators often used marijuana use as a reason to discredit the previous president's judicial nominees. But now that a Republican president is in charge of those nominees, they're willing to look the other way.
Senate Republicans blocked Obama nominees who had used marijuana after passing the bar. Now they want a more flexible standard for Trump nominees.
Senate Republicans blocked Obama nominees who had used marijuana after passing the bar. Now they want a more flexible standard for Trump nominees.— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) November 17, 2017
I am not opposed to a more flexible standard. But it shouldn’t be a double standard for Democratic vs. Republican nominees.
I am not opposed to a more flexible standard. But it shouldn’t be a double standard for Democratic vs. Republican nominees.— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) November 17, 2017
So unfortunately it appears it's not a case of Republicans believing marijuana use isn't a big deal as much as it is they want to remove as many barriers as possible for conservative judicial nominees. Well, you know what they say about two steps forward...
(h/t Marijuana Moment)