President Barack Obama’s nomination of Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, is a metaphor for what is wrong with the Obama Administration.
Not because Dr. Hayden is a bad person or bad at her current job, but because to this administration, radical ideology is more important than substance. This is supposed to be an apolitical position for scholars.
Instead, Hayden has been no stranger to political controversy in a profession that is not known for it. She used her position as head of the American Library Association (ALA) to attack the Patriot Act.
More notably, the ALA litigated against pornography filters at public library computers in a landmark Supreme Court decision, and lost in a 6-3 ruling.
The President is appointing someone because they check the right boxes and thinks the way he does. In recent history, nominees to this post have tended to be non-controversial.
The current President has never been one to defer to precedent, and would prefer ensconce his thinking in even the most minute of positions.
Hans Von Spokovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, points out that the Librarian of Congress is “[o]ne of the most prestigious posts in government, it has traditionally been home to distinguished scholars that the Librarian of Congress is usually accomplished, and has scholarly renown in academia.”
Obama bypasses this custom by pointing out that Hayden is only one of three librarians to ever be selected for the job. But as Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter once said, the Library of Congress “is not merely just a library,” alluding to the massive responsibilities that such a position imposes including preserving America’s cultural history and the U.S. Copyright Office.
But whether or not this nominee will rise to the challenge of these responsibilities, Obama appears to have a greater desire to promote a radical ideologue.
These appointments are supposed to be on the basis of qualification, which has not been demonstrated. Again, this position is supposed to be apolitical. Hayden’s activism would appear to disqualify her.
For this reason, the Senate, in its role to advice and consent, should not rubber stamp this nominee in a fit of election year apathy. Instead, Hayden should be rejected, even if that means the President needs to put forth another nominee.