Washington, February 16, 2005 – Seven judicial nominees, whose nominations by US President George W. Bush were filibustered by Democrats in the Senate last year, were included in a list of 20 nominations submitted by the U.S. President Monday
President Bush was forced to rescind the recess appointment of William H. Pryor Jr. last year – a desperate attempt to circumnavigate a Democratic filibuster. A White House release last February described the Democratic activities: “A minority of Democratic Senators has been using unprecedented obstructionist tactics to prevent [Pryor] and other qualified nominees from receiving up-or-down votes. Their tactics are inconsistent with the Senate's constitutional responsibility and are hurting our judicial system.”
Democrats excluded seven of 32 judicial picks who were deemed unsuitable for the high court based on their conservative views, especially because of their opposition to abortion. Pro-abortion Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) told reporters that Democrats would continue to hold out against these seven nominees. Daschle failed to be re-elected in November.
“I'm pleased that the president has renominated these excellent women and men to serve on the federal bench,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said. “I'm hopeful that Democrats will work with me to get up-or-down votes on each nominee,” according to a Washington Times report.
Republicans, who gained four Senate seats in the November election, have proposed a change to judiciary appointment rules, revising the prior 60-vote requirement to overcome the opposition’s obstruction of a nomination, to a simple majority.
Democratic Senators were not impressed with the proposed change. They claim a change to appointment rules in the Senate is a “nuclear option” because of the devastation it will cause to the democratic process.
“We don't know if Senator Frist has 51 ‘yes’ votes, but it would be a tragedy for the Senate and for the country if he does,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer maintained. “It would reverse almost 200 years of history and dramatically change what the Senate has always been.”
But Senate Judiciary Committee member, Texas Republican John Cornyn, disagreed: “It would make no sense to require Republicans to be elected by a 60 percent vote, while only requiring 51 percent of Democrats,” he said. “The Senate should reject the double standard that Democrats have created for confirming President Bush's nominees and restore our constitutional and traditional standards.”
“The American people sent a strong message on November 2 against the obstructionist tactics that, unfortunately, we saw all too often in the past four years,” Cornyn said. “I'm hopeful that the will of the American people has been made clear to the obstructionists and that these 20 nominees will receive swift up-or-down votes, as all judicial nominees deserve.”