Senate Democrats are reportedly planning to push for a vote on a handful of pro-abortion judicial nominees President Barack Obama has already put forward that have drawn strong opposition from Republicans and pro-life groups.
The vote on the judicial nominees is one of several contentious votes Democrats plan to push through during the lame duck session before the new session of Congress starts with fewer abortion advocates.
The nominees include Goodwin Liu, Edward Chen and Louis Butler — all judicial activists who are supportive of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision responsible for 52 million abortions.
The Legal Times blog indicates Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse , a Rhode island Democrat, said yesterday that pro-abortion Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working on obtaining enough votes to approve a cloture motion to end the Republican filibuster against the judges.
“He’s lining up the signatures,” Whitehouse said. The cloture petition needs 16 signatures and the vote would need the support of 60 senators.
Democrats control 58 Senate seats until January unless Sen.-elect Mark Kirk of Illinois, who supports abortion but would be lobbied by fellow Republicans to oppose the cloture motion, is sworn in before then.
On Monday, a coalition of conservative groups led by the Committee for Justice sent Reid a letter asking him to not attempt to force votes on any nominees before the next session of Congress.
“Any ‘lame-duck’ confirmations would be a gross abuse of Congressional authority in a last gasp attempt to perpetuate an agenda that the American people have already rejected,” the letter says.
This morning, conservative judicial watchdog Carrie Severino wrote at National Review that “One of the many pieces of mischief planned for the lame-duck session is the Democrats’ plan to move some of the most controversial judicial nominees through to a vote.” She said conservative groups would be watching and scoring any votes on the cloture motion and the nominees.
Obama nominated Goodwin Liu for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Edward Chen for the Northern District of California and Louis Butler for the Western District of Wisconsin.
Family Research Council legislative guru Tom McClusky has commented on Liu, saying he is “a firm believer in the rule of international law and has shown nothing but disrespect for the Senate Judiciary Committee.” Liu is a professor at the liberal University of California, Berkeley.
Ed Whelan, a judicial expert writing at National Review, says Liu is a problem because he believes the Constitution to be a “living” document, the same view as those jurists on the Supreme Court who invented an unlimited right to abortion throughout pregnancy in the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases.
“Goodwin Liu has urged judicial invention (usually in an “interstitial” role) of constitutional rights,” he writes today.
Liu “presents a volatile mix of aggressive left-wing ideology and raw inexperience,” Whelan adds.
“Liu is closely aligned with various left-wing groups. For example, he is (or recently was) on the boards of directors of the American Constitution Society, the ACLU of Northern California, and the National Women’s Law Center. He apparently practiced law for about two years,” he notes.
Liu has said he believes in the pro-abortion notion of a changing Constitution that can, for example, allow for unlimited abortion rights.
“What we mean by fidelity is that the Constitution should be interpreted in ways that adapt its principles and its text to the challenges and conditions of our society in every succeeding generation,” Liu has said.
Liu clerked for pro-abortion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, worked in the Clinton administration, and spoke out against Supreme Court nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
Butler was already on his second nomination, as Obama put him forward again in January.
In December, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines 12-7 for the nomination of Judge Louis B. Butler Jr. for a Federal District Court slot in the Western District of Wisconsin.
Opponents say Butler has a long record of judicial activism — the kind that saw the Supreme Court put Roe v. Wade in place and judges overturn pro-life laws to limit abortion.
Butler is a liberal judge who was rejected by Wisconsin voters twice.
“When Louis Butler lost his race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2008, he was the first incumbent justice to be defeated since 1967,” the pro-life group Family Research Council informed LifeNews.com. “He had previously lost to then-Justice Diane S. Sykes in a race for the Court in 2000 – Butler earned 34 percent of the vote and lost in all 72 counties, including Milwaukee and Dane (Madison) counties.”
“During his brief but too long tenure on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Louis Butler was a left-wing judicial activist,” FRC warned.
In March 2008, Wisconsin Right to Life termed Butler “pro-abortion” and said there were “lots of reasons voters would want to reject sending Justice Louis Butler back to the State Supreme Court.”
Chen has come under criticism because he was employed as an ACLU attorney in San Francisco for decades.
The Senate Judiciary Committee signed off on Chen’s nomination in October 2009 on a 12-7 party-line vote. Since then, Republicans have put a hold on his nomination and several other abortion advocates and other controversial nominees.
Conservative columnist Warner Todd Huston says Chen is out of the mainstream.
“Well, for one, the left-wing American Bar Association rated Chen a ‘well qualified’ nominee and many of his associates at the ACLU speak highly of him,” he said. “Chen was quite the ACLU activist between 1979 and 2001. His ACLU history would suffice to make many wary of him, of course.”
Huston also said Chen would be a judge in the activist mold of those who allowed virtually unlimited abortions under Roe v. Wade.
“Now, what of his judicial standards? What sort of philosophy does Chen employ on the bench? Is it a strict standard of reading at law, or is he one of those sorts of judicial activists that uses the law to spread his own particular philosophy of social justice? Sadly, it appears to be the latter,” he writes.
“For Obama’s judges, experiences and feelings trump the Constitution and the law and these experiences and feelings should be used as a basis to adjudicate the cases that come before them,” Huston concludes.