Lugar, Voinovich Go Soft on Eric Holder

President-elect Barack Obama doesn’t take office until Jan. 20, but his liberal allies on Capitol Hill want to move quickly on the nomination of Attorney General designee Eric Holder. There’s good reason. The more time conservatives have to dig into Holder’s past, the more dirt they’re likely to find.

Legal Times reports today that “Republicans have fastened to Holder as their best chance to politically weaken and extract concessions from a future member of President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet.” Three GOP senators — Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) — have raised questions about Holder’s nomination. And Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has resisted Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy’s plan to hold a hearing before Obama is inaugurated.

Leahy was forced to delay the hearing from Jan. 8 to sometime during the week of Jan. 15 when Republican senators signed a letter warning him that there would be consequences for not allowing sufficient time to vet Holder.

Two Republicans chose not to sign that letter: Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio). Now is not the time to go soft. Given the narrow margin in the Senate, the loss of Lugar and Voinovich would doom any attempt by the GOP to slow down Holder’s confirmation. (Neither senator’s office returned a request for comment.)

Both senators have a history of thwarting conservatives in the past. When he was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar attempted to bring the Law of the Sea Treaty to a vote. Voinovich, meanwhile, was the obstacle that prevented John Bolton’s confirmation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Holder’s partisan political background, combined with his anti-Second Amendment views and work on Bill Clinton’s questionable pardons, requires a thorough examination. Is it too much to ask of Lugar and Voinovich to sign a letter requesting that Republicans be given sufficient time to question Holder and prepare for his hearing?