Bush Prepares to Re-Nominate Judges Blocked by Democrats
July 7, 2008 - 8:30 PM
(CNSNews.com) - President Bush will again nominate 20 persons for federal judgeships, even though Democrats previously used tactics such as filibusters to prevent them from being confirmed, the White House announced Thursday.
"The president nominated highly qualified individuals to the federal courts during his first term, but the Senate failed to vote on many nominations," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said in a written statement.
"The Senate has a constitutional obligation to vote up or down on a president's judicial nominees," McClellan added, "and the president looks forward to working with the new Senate to ensure a well-functioning and independent judiciary."
Despite the Republican majority in the Senate, Democrats used filibusters to prevent final votes on 10 of Bush's 34 nominees to the federal appeals courts during the past two years.
And even though the GOP gained four seats in the Nov. 2 election, Republicans are still five votes short of the 60 needed to overcome further filibusters.
A final obstacle to the confirmations could be Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who recently was voted chairman of the Judiciary Committee despite his statement that judges who oppose abortion would have a difficult time gaining Senate confirmation, given the opposition from Democrats.
"The president has decided to re-nominate many highly qualified and capable individuals to serve as federal judges," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). "I look forward to working with Sen. Specter, other Judiciary Committee members and my colleagues to ensure quick action and up-and-down votes on these judicial nominees."
When the 109th Congress convenes on Jan. 4, the president will re-submit the names of the following 12 individuals for the U.S. Court of Appeals:
Terrence Boyle, 4th Circuit; Priscilla Owen, 5th Circuit; David McKeague, 6th Circuit; Susan Neilson, 6th Circuit; Henry Saad, 6th Circuit; Richard Griffin, 6th Circuit; William Pryor; 11th Circuit; William Myers III, 9th Circuit; Janice Brown, District of Columbia Circuit; Brett Kavanaugh, District of Columbia Circuit; William Haynes II, 4th Circuit; and Thomas Griffith, District of Columbia Circuit.
Of the 10 appeals court nominees blocked by the Democrats, four are not in Bush's new list of nominees for the federal bench.
After a long battle in the Senate, Charles Pickering, Sr., was named to the federal appeals court by the president in a recess appointment. However, on Dec. 9, Pickering announced his retirement, saying he would not seek a permanent seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The other three are: Miguel Estrada, a native of Honduras and former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy; California judge Carolyn Kuhl; and Claude Allen, whose Virginia residency upset Maryland's senators because the post to which he was nominated on the 4th Circuit is usually held by a person from the Free State.
Bush intends to propose the following eight people to less-controversial U.S. District Court positions:
James Dever III, Eastern District, North Carolina; Thomas Ludington, Eastern District, Michigan; Robert Conrad, Western District, North Carolina; Daniel Ryan, Eastern District, Michigan; Peter Sheridan, New Jersey; Paul Crotty, Southern District, New York; Sean Cox, Eastern District, Michigan; and J. Michael Seabright, Hawaii.
"I was extremely disappointed to learn today that the president intends to begin the new Congress by resubmitting extremist judicial nominees," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement.
"The Bush administration is ending the year as they began it, choosing confrontation over compromise, ideology over moderation, and defiance over cooperation," said Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
"On some of their controversial nominees, they may prevail because of their monopoly of power," Leahy added. "The big loser, however, will be the independence of our judicial branch of government."
Ralph Neas, director of the liberal organization People for the American Way, which worked to block several court appointments during the president's first tem, said that Bush's decision signaled a renewal of partisan warfare.
"The president and his team want to pack the federal courts with right-wing ideologues and roll back decades of progress in social justice," Neas stated.
'The dynamics of 2006'
On the other side of the political fence, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), another member of the Judiciary Committee, said he was encouraged by the president's plans to re-nominate the candidates.
"I hope they'll receive better treatment than they did in the last Congress," Cornyn said Thursday. "I think the American people sent a strong message on Nov. 2 against the obstructionist tactics that, unfortunately, we saw all too often in the past four years.
"The dynamics of 2006 are in play here," Cornyn added. "Those Democratic senators up for re-election in states Bush did very well in have to be looking at what happened to Tom Daschle in South Dakota and wondering if the same fate is in store for them if they continue to ... prevent up-or-down votes on the president's nominees."
Daschle's loss in the Nov. 2 election cost him both his Senate seat and the post of Senate minority leader.
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