White House, Senate Democrats Strike Agreement on Judge Nominations
by Steven Ertelt
May 19, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration and leading Senate Democrats have reached an agreement on voting on President Bush’s nominees to various federal courts. Leading Democrats had put in place an indefinite filibuster of all Bush nominees following two recess appointments of pro-life judges they previously filibustered.
The agreement calls for Democrats to allow votes on more than two dozen Bush nominees that are less controversial and the president to refrain from any further recess appointments for the rest of the year.
While the agreement allows many nominees to be approved, only one "controversial" nominee has been included in the package of judicial candidates slated for a vote — James Holmes.
Holmes, a former leader of the Arkansas Right to Life pro-life group, drew strong objections from abortion advocates in the Senate, who criticized him for opposing abortions even in cases of rape or incest.
The deal doesn’t allow votes on several pro-life appeals court nominees that have been the leading focus of the filibusters.
In February, Bush used his recess appointment powers to put pro-life Alabama Attorney General William Pryor on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. In January, Bush placed pro-life U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The recess appointment powers constitutionally allow him to appoint judges — but only for a limited time of one or two years — in the absence of Senate confirmation.
In both cases, pro-abortion senators were able to defeat bids to approve their nominations.
In addition to Pryor and Pickering, Senate Democrats in 2003 used filibusters to block confirmation votes for Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl, a nominee to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco; California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, a nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; and Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, a nominee to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The agreement allows up-or-down floor votes for 20 district level and five appellate level judicial nominees before Congress’ summer recess that begins on June 25.