by Steven Ertelt
May 9, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Marking the four year anniversary of some of his nominations to federal appeals and district courts, President Bush on Monday asked the Senate to give his pro-life nominees an up or down vote.
"Nominees who have the support of a majority of the Senate should be confirmed,” Bush said in a statement issued by the White House as he was wrapping up his five-day European tour. “Unfortunately, a minority of senators is blocking the will of the Senate.”
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales also held a news conference at the Justice Department Monday and agreed, saying, "All judicial nominees deserve an up-or-down vote. It’s a matter of fairness."
Bush put forward his first dozen nominees for federal courts four years ago and some of the candidates for the bench have yet to receive a Senate vote.
That’s led to a Senate battle on whether to change rules on stopping filibusters, used by abortion advocates to block votes on the nominees. Currently 60 votes are needed to end debate and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist wants to change the rules to allow a majority vote to end filibusters.
A vote on the rules change is expected in the coming weeks and the outcome is too close to call.
"The outcome of this fight will depend on whether at least 49 other Republican senators support Senator Frist on declaring filibusters of judicial nominees out of order," National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson explained.
Johnson said the stakes are high for pro-life advocates on the rules change battle.
"This may very well determine the fate of President Bush’s nominations to future vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the future makeup of the powerful federal appeals courts."
However, some Republican senators have either not announced a position on the filibuster vote or, in the case of Arizona Senator John McCain, indicated they will oppose it. On the Democratic side, few senators are considered likely to bolt from their party’s position against the rules change.
Frist and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid have both rejected compromise offers each side has brought forth to resolve the impasse.
Reid said he will not agree to any deal that includes the Senate changing the filibuster rules.