Senate Republican Leader Tells Democrats: Don’t Block Judges

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Republican Leader Tells Democrats: Don’t Block Judges Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 20
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Newly-elected Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell wasted little time following the unanimous vote of his colleagues before taking the debate directly to pro-abortion lawmakers who have said they will hold up President Bush’s judicial picks.

McConnell warned that Senate Democrats, who took over control of Congress following this month’s elections, will have a tough time advancing their agenda if they prohibit votes on the judges.

McConnell, a pro-life Kentucky Republican, told a weekend meeting of the conservative Federalist Society that if the “Democrats want our cooperation, they’ll give the president’s judicial nominees an up-or-down vote."

“Senator McConnell wants bipartisan cooperation but that’s a two-way street,” his spokesman, Don Stewart, told the Associated Press.

“You can’t expect easy cooperation on issues of importance to them unless they respect issues of importance to us, including the principle that judges deserve an up-or-down vote," he explained.

The comments came after some from Vice President Dick Cheney to the group on Friday telling them that President Bush doesn’t intend to water down his judicial picks simply because Democrats will run the Senate.

Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, told AP that President Bush should "stop picking fights," but pro-abortion lawmakers spent last week threatening Bush if he didn’t cave in on judges.

Sen. Charles Schumer, the number three Senate Democrat, 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.

He had previously warned Bush not to select any judges who oppose abortion.

“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.

But Bush renominated six judges this past week, including four who Senate Democrats strongly oppose.