Democrats Tell President Bush: Don’t Propose Judges Against Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 13, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Democrats Tell President Bush: Don’t Propose Judges Against Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 13
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Now that the elections have given them control of the Senate, leading Democrats on judicial issues have a message for President Bush. They don’t want him to send up for confirmation any judges who would be hostile to legalized abortion or they plan vote down or filibuster them.

Democrats now have 51 votes in the Senate and will likely have a slim one vote majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee when Congress starts its new session in January.

Though they technically have enough votes on the panel and in the Senate to defeat any Bush judicial pick, they may still have a tough time keeping their caucus together as some moderate Democrats joined a group of Republicans in making sure filibusters weren’t used to hold up nominees.

But leading pro-abortion Democrats tell Bush he needs to pick someone without a record opposed to abortion in order to get judges — especially for the Supreme Court — confirmed in their Senate.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, told Newsday that Bush should nominate only "consensus" nominees.

Sen. Charles Schumer, of New York, was more strident and vowed to block any nominee he feels is too extreme on abortion.

"We will do everything in our power to see that that happens," he told Newsday, saying filibusters should be expected. He added that Bush "will have to negotiate with us, because we’ll have the majority."

There are no current Supreme Court openings, but pro-abortion Justice John Paul Stevens, who was the subject of retirement speculations shortly before the elections, is 86 years-old and battling significant health problems.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, another abortion advocate is 73 years-old and has her own health concerns.

Had the GOP kept control of the Senate, the liberal judges may have waited to retire, but they could step down feeling that the chances they would be replaced by a less conservative judge are higher with Democrats heading up the chamber.

How Bush reacts to Democratic control may be seen in whether he chooses to re-nominate six conservative appeals court judges who have yet to be confirmed.

Should a Supreme Court opening develop closer to the 2008 presidential elections, that may put more pressure on Senate Democrats to hold off on confirming a replacement until afterwards.