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"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." James Madison, "Father of the Constitution;" President of the United States, 1809-1817

 

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May 2005

Gnawing at the Nominees:
The Fourth Anniversary of Judicial Nomination Obstructionism

Four years ago today marks the beginning of an unprecedented and unconstitutional effort by Senate Democrats to obstruct judicial nominations and justice in America. On May 9, 2001, President George Bush named his first nominees to the federal courts. The Senate has yet to take a floor vote on two of these nominees-Priscilla Owen and Terrence Boyle. In 2003, Senate Democrats, for the first time in history, began a filibuster process of lower court nominees who had majority support on the Senate floor. The filibuster has denied these nominees an up-or-down vote by the entire Senate. In the last Congress, Democrat obstructionists filibustered ten of Bush's Court of Appeals nominees.

Today, 11 Circuit Court nominees have been waiting more than a year or more for Senate action:


Days Pending for Bush Appeals Court Nominees
Nominee
Nomination Date
Days Pending
Janice Brown, D.C. Circuit
7/25/03
644
Brett Kavanaugh, D.C. Circuit
7/25/03
644
Terrence Boyle, Fourth Circuit
5/9/01
1450
William Haynes, Fourth Circuit
9/29/03
578
Priscilla Owen, Fifth Circuit
5/9/01
1450
Richard Griffin, Sixth Circuit
6/26/02
1038
David McKeague, Sixth Circuit
11/8/01
1268
Susan Neilson, Sixth Circuit
11/8/01
1268
Henry Saad, Sixth Circuit
11/8/01
1268
William Myers, Ninth Circuit
5/15/03
715
William Pryor, Eleventh Circuit
4/9/03
751


Just a few days ago, on April 28, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist offered a "Fairness Rule" to resolve the judicial nominations battle:

Guaranteed up or down votes on judicial nominations.

Guaranteed debate time on judicial nominations.

Guaranteed reporting from Judiciary Committee to floor.

Guaranteed fairness for Senators and nominees.

Guaranteed protection of the legislative filibuster.

This seemingly "more-than-fair" compromise was rejected by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Instead, Senate Democrats reportedly suggested a compromise of their own: they would drop their filibusters against William Myers (see chart above) and Thomas Griffith (D.C. Circuit nominee) if the GOP would withdraw the nominations of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owens and California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown (see chart above).

This is no true compromise. Owens and Brown are two of Bush's most stellar nominees, and the Constitution requires that the entire Senate (not a minority thereof, or a few obstructionists on the Judiciary Committee) must "advise and consent" to judicial nominees. In 214 years, the Senate has approved Presidential nominations by a simple majority vote, and the U. S. Supreme Court held in 1892 that the Constitution requires only a majority vote (51%) unless the document specifically provides for a larger majority (U. S. v. Ballin). The Senate is controlled by the GOP, which should exercise its power and exercise the "constitutional option"-hold a simple majority vote to bring Justices Owens and Brown to the floor for an up-or-down vote.

WE MUST ACT NOW!!!

Contact your U. S. Senators and Urge Them to
Exercise Their Constitutional Option AND Their
Constitutional Obligation!