Senate Will Hold Marathon Debate on Pro-Life Judicial Nominees

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 12, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Will Hold Marathon Debate on Pro-Life Judicial Nominees

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 12, 2003

Washington, DC ( — Starting this evening, the Senate will hold a 30-hour marathon debate on President Bush’s pro-life judicial nominees. The move is the latest attempt to get the appeals court nominees approved and to draw public attention to the filibuster tactics used by pro-abortion lawmakers preventing them from receiving an up or down vote.

The debate begins Wednesday night and will go until midnight Thursday.

Both sides are expected to bash each other — with pro-life lawmakers saying the nominees should be confirmed and abortion advocates saying their pro-life views make them too extreme to sit on the second highest courts in the nation.

Pro-life groups have said Senate Republicans need to do more to highlight the stalling tactics.

"We cannot let a handful of pro-abortion senators hold the voting process hostage," said Jennifer Bingham, director of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political group.

Bingham said how the Senate handles appellate court nominees will impact potential Supreme Court appointments.

"These actions have ramifications at the Supreme Court level as well. If a Supreme Court vacancy occurs, a pro-life nominee will not get confirmed with this current Senate," she said.

Senate Republicans hope they have an opportunity to slip in a judicial vote. They can’t end debate and bring up a nominee for a vote unless there is no Democratic senator present on the floor.

But if someone falls asleep or stops paying attention, Republican senators will quickly move for a vote.

"They’re forewarned: If the floor is not protected, the vote will be called," said pro-life Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). "We are going to do everything we can to do what they’re doing, ratcheting up the intensity on this issue.”

Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, Texas judge Priscilla Owen, Mississippi judge Charles Pickering and Hispanic lawyer Miguel Estrada are the pro-life nominees that have been prevented from receiving a vote thus far. Pro-abortion senators are likely to filibuster others as they come to the Senate floor.

Republicans control 51 votes and have had the support of pro-life Democrats such as Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Zell Miller (D-GA). However, they have failed to reach the 60 vote threshold for ending debate on several occasions.

Senate Democrats say they are looking forward to the 15 hours allotted to them to criticize both the Republicans and President Bush — on both his judicial nominees and other issues.

Kate Michelman, president of NARAL, said Bush’s nominees would receive a confirmation vote, if only he would nominate candidates who supported abortion.

"They’ll be staying up all night tonight, but many Americans stay up late every night worrying about the President’s tireless efforts to take away our rights. If George Bush would simply nominate judges who respect basic liberties, everyone could get a good night’s sleep," Michelman said.

ACTION: Please contact your senators and urge stgrong support for Bush’s judicial nominees. You can rech any senator at 202-224-3121 or find specific contact information at