The White House has announced that President Bush intends to renominate 20 of his most controversial picks for the federal courts, including those who were blocked by Democratic filibusters. “The childish message to Senate Democrats could hardly be clearer: I dare you to try filibustering them again,” wrote the Washington Post editorial board.
Among President Bush’s intended nominees to be placed once again before the Senate are several who are ardently opposed to abortion rights, women’s rights, civil rights, and environmental protections. These include Janice Rogers Brown, who voted in favor of California’s parental consent statute and voted against a ruling that would stop racially discriminatory speech in a work place because, she wrote, racist remarks at work are protected by the First Amendment; William Pryor, who called the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history,” and “the day seven members of our high court ripped the Constitution and ripped out the life of millions of unborn children”; and William Myers, who was opposed not only for his views on reproductive rights but also because of his decades of fighting for the rights of cattle ranchers and the mining industry over the protection of the environment and the rights of Native Americans.
After the 2004 election, the US Senate is made up of 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats, and one Independent. It takes only 41 votes to sustain a filibuster. However, Senate Republicans have been threatening to employ a “nuclear option” which would disallow filibusters on judicial nominations so that confirmation of nominees would require only a simple 51-vote majority. New Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has vowed to use procedural measures to slow Senate business to a crawl if Republicans try to change the rules on filibusters, according to USA Today.
The Feminist Majority is part of a broad coalition of women’s rights, civil rights, lesbian and gay rights, environmental, labor, and disability rights groups that has been urging Senate Democrats to filibuster extremist, right-wing nominees to the federal courts.
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