by Steven Ertelt
November 15, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Expanding on his previous warning to President Bush to not appoint any judges who oppose abortion, Sen. Charles Schumer says the biggest mistake on the part of Senate Democrats was allowing the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito. He pledges it won’t happen again now that his party has the majority.
“Judges are the most important,” Schumer, who is now the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said in a Wednesday interview.
“One more justice would have made it a 5-4 conservative, hard-right majority for a long time. That won’t happen," the abortion advocate vowed.
Schumer told the New York Observer that, from now on, all of the judges Bush appoints must meet his requirements.
“I’ve always had some influence, and I guess now, because of what we’ve been able to accomplish, I have some more influence,” Schumer told the newspaper. “So when I say we shouldn’t do this or we should do that, I guess people will pay a little more attention. Or go along with it, even if they don’t agree.”
With the filibuster rule in the Senate and a larger number of senators who may oppose a nominee than before, it’s more likely that Schumer and his pro-abortion allies can stop Republicans and moderate Democrats from banding together to approve judicial picks.
Manuel Miranda, who heads the Third Branch Conference, which promotes conservative judicial nominees, acknowledged the difficulty the president now faces on judges.
"The Bush presidency is over with regard to judges," he told Bloomberg News.
Schumer’s interview expands on comments he made earlier in the week.
He 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."
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who will head the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, agreed and said Bush should nominate only "consensus" nominees.
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 now 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. There are currently 16 vacancies and Democrats will likely try to keep those spots open hoping a Democratic president can fill them after the next elections.
During his first six years, Bush picked Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts for the Supreme Court and appointed 46 of the 179 judges on the country’s 13 federal appeals courts.
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.