06/11/2009 02:19 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The "Hold" on the Groves Nomination Continues

At least one unnamed Republican Senator continues to place a "hold" on the nomination of Robert Groves, and no one seems to know why. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, earlier this week:

Dr. Groves, President Barack Obama's pick to lead the bureau, was approved easily by the Senate homeland-security committee in May, but Republicans blocked a confirmation vote last week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Republicans weren't yet in agreement on the nominee.

It is unclear why Republicans are blocking the vote. A McConnell spokeswoman, Jennifer Morris, said she had no information on the delay.

Yesterday, the New York Times editorial board took up the argument:

It is hard to imagine the public interest that is being served by the hold. It is easy, unfortunately, to imagine the political interest. A leaderless Census Bureau is unlikely to pull off an accurate count. Inaccurate tallies tend to favor Republicans, because a bad census misses hard-to-count groups that tilt Democratic, like minorities and immigrants, thus over-representing easy-to-count suburbanites who tilt Republican.

Kristen Soltis has written on our own site about the demographic challenge facing the Republican party in appealing to younger voters. Last year, she tells us, only 62% of voters under 30 were white. "Expanding the Republican Party's appeal to younger voters," she writes, "is inextricably linked with the issue of expanding the party's appeal to minority communities."

Separately, the recent Political Values study by the Pew Research Center American demonstrates continuing confidence in science, especially among the young. Only a third of Americans (34%), they report, agree "that science is going too far and is hurting society rather than helping it" (61% disagree). Not surprisingly, the report finds that younger Americans are the least likely to express discomfort with science. [Correction: I misread the report. Younger Americans are less likely to say that technology "s making life too complicated for me"].

I understand that the Groves nomination is about as obscure an issue as exists on the Congressional agenda and that partisanship trumps all else when legislators take up anything affecting reapportionment and redistricting. Still, someone needs to explain to me how the Republican Party is helping itself with this Luddite stand against a nominee with "bulletproof scientific credentials," especially when that stand projects hostility to the interests of minorities.