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Bush Proposes Short Deadlines for Judicial Confirmations

President George Bush announced a proposal yesterday to speed up the judicial confirmation process in his most recent attempt to pressure the Senate into rubber-stamping his judicial nominations to the federal courts. Bush proposes that judges inform the White House of their plans to retire at least one year in advance. The President would then have six months to choose a replacement. Once the Senate receives a nomination they would have only three months to prepare for a hearing. Bush also proposes that the full Senate vote on a nomination within six months of the initial nomination, even if the Senate Judiciary Committee has not approved the nominee, thus abridging the Senate’s constitutional duty to scrutinize nominees. Democrats questioned the timing and handling of the proposal, which was crafted without consulting the Senate after ignoring numerous invitations for cooperation, and announced just a week before the elections, according to the Post. Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying, “The Senate does not need arbitrary deadlines. What we need is cooperation from the White House in choosing more non-controversial nominees. Controversial nominations to lifetime appointments, once confirmed, cannot be undone.” The Bush Administration claims that Democrats have blocked the President’s attempts to fill the vacant federal judgeships. Running counter to Republican accusations, People for the American Way reports that Democrats have confirmed more judges this past year than the Republican-controlled Senate did in all of 1996, 1997, 1999, or 2000. In fact, the judicial nominations backlog accelerated during the Clinton administration due to the Republican strategy of blocking President Clinton’s federal court nominations so that seats would be left vacant for a Republican president to fill with right-wing ideologues. TAKE ACTION: Learn more about federal judiciary nominees and take action with the Million4Roe campaign

Sources:

Washington Post 10/31/02; Philadelphia Inquirer 10/31/02; People for the American Way; New York Times 10/31/02; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 10/31/02