Wes Hickman/Kevin Bishop
– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said the treatment of President Bush’s nominees to the federal bench has been one of the low points of his first year in the Senate. Graham said he looks forward to the 30-hour, round the clock ‘Justice for Judges’ debate scheduled to begin late Wednesday and conclude Friday morning.
As one of the new members to the Senate and one of the leaders of the push to bring additional pressure on the Senators holding the nominations hostage, Graham is scheduled to be on the floor during the late evening Wednesday starting about midnight and finishing up early Thursday morning. He’ll be joined in the early morning hours by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) fellow freshmen Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) and Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota).
“Democrats, abusing the rules of the Senate, have changed the requirement for getting a judicial nominee confirmed from a simple majority of 51 votes to a 60 vote supermajority,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It’s without precedent and marks the first time in American history a judicial nominee has been defeated by partisan filibuster. We need to break these filibusters, and we must do it soon. The presidents’ nominees deserve a straight up or down vote. If they get this, they will be confirmed.”
Among the Bush nominees currently being blocked are:
- Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans,
- U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans,
- California Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and
- Alabama Attorney General William ‘Bill’ Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
It is also expected the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to the District Court of Columbia Circuit will soon be blocked. Miguel Estrada, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, withdrew his nomination from consideration after Republicans tried and failed on seven different occasions to garner 60 votes.
Graham noted Republicans Senators have discussed several options that may be used in an effort to move the nominees forward after the 30-hour debate ends. Among the options considered are bipartisan legislation offered by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) and Senator Zell Miller (D-Georgia) to implement a smoother process to handle judicial nominations, filing suit and letting a federal court decide if the Senate is carrying out its duty to ‘advise and consent,’ or changing the Senate rules by a Senator making a point of order declaring the Democrats tactics unconstitutional.
“I’m going to continue pushing these nominees forward because it’s just plain wrong the way they’re being treated,” said Graham. “The Senate Democrats should be ashamed of the way they are treating these highly qualified nominees. If the votes are there they should be confirmed. If the votes aren’t, they won’t. Instead, we’re allowing the minority to set a new standard and have virtual veto power over a judicial nominee. The 30-hour debate is the beginning of a new offensive in the effort to push these judges forward.”