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Senate Judicial Responsibility
Human Events ^ | August 1, 2003 | Chris Field

Posted on 08/01/2003 8:05:33 AM PDT by hinterlander

During Clinton's tenure, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) supported forcing the Senate to vote on judicial nominations before a long break, like the looming August recess. He even proposed legislation to get it done. Now he's blocking the Senate's duty of advice and consent.

This week Senate Democrats were successful in blocking a confirmation vote on three superb Circuit Court nominees – Priscilla Owen, Miguel Estrada, and William Pryor. They most likely would have been successful in blocking a fourth – Carolyn Kuhl to the Ninth Circuit – had the vote on cloture not been vitiated last night. Instead, Ms. Kuhl must wait until September to see what will happen to her career.

Unfortunately, the Americans within the jurisdictions of the various circuits to which those people were nominated are the ones who will suffer the most. Three of these four nominations that the Left is blocking have been declared "judicial emergencies." Only Miguel Estrada's nomination to the D.C. Circuit is not so labeled.

One would hope that Democrats, seeing the judicial emergencies that exist, might take a deep breath and end their judicial blockade, especially before leaving for a long August recess. It seems only fair that before the Senators leave for their summer break they might try to confirm a few nominations that are considered emergencies.

The truth is that when Clinton was in the White House Democrats were arguing that exact point. Today, they sing a different tune and actively work to keep the Senate from doing its constitutional duty to vote on judicial nominations.

On April 2, 1998, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) introduced the "Judicial Emergency Responsibility Act" (S. 1906). The bill was created to force Senate action, prior to an extended recess, on any Circuit Court nominations that had been pending for at least two months and had been labeled "judicial emergencies." The language of the bill, amending section 46 of title 28 of the U.S. Code, was as follows:

"(e) Action by Senate Required. - The Senate shall not recess during a session for more than 9 days without first voting on a judicial nomination in any case in which - (1) the nomination to fill the judiciary vacancy in the affected circuit court has been pending before the Senate for a period of 60 days or longer; and (2) a judicial emergency is declared pursuant to subsection (b) due to vacancies on the affected circuit court."

The day he introduced the bill, Sen. Leahy let it be known that he considered it vital for the Senate to consider pending judicial nominations -- especially those to the circuit courts -- expeditiously. On the Senate Floor Leahy said, "The purpose of this bill is . . . to require the Senate to do its duty and to act on judicial nominations before it recesses for significant stretches of time when a Circuit Court is suffering from a vacancy emergency."

Had Leahy's "Judicial Emergency Responsibility Act" been enacted, the Senate Democrats would have spent this week prior to their month-long recess confirming some important nominees rather than preventing them from receiving an up-or-down vote.

If Sen. Leahy truly believed what he said back in 1998, if those where his true convictions, then Pricilla Owen, nominated to the 5th Circuit back on May 9, 2001, William Pryor, nominated to the 11th Circuit on April 9, 2003, and Carolyn Kuhl, nominated to the 9th Circuit on June 22, 2001 (all three have been declared "judicial emergencies) would have received honest Senate consideration and, by all accounts, would be serving the nation on the federal bench today.

Instead, they are languishing and so are the people covered by those circuits.

(This article was adapted from a paper I wrote while at the Republican Policy Committee.)


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: circuit; cloture; confrimation; conservatives; estrada; filibuster; judge; judiciary; kuhl; liberals; nomination; nominee; owen; pryor; vote

1 posted on 08/01/2003 8:05:34 AM PDT by hinterlander
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To: hinterlander
If Sen. Leahy truly believed what he said back in 1998, if those where his true convictions...

Here we have the problem. They don't have convictions unless it is a political gain for them. If... if... if they had their convictions they claim to have, we wouldn't be in the trouble we are in now. If they had convictions, they would have voted to remove Clinton in the impeachment vote.

These people have not ethical convictions. Americans are beginning to see them for what they are.

2 posted on 08/01/2003 8:48:28 AM PDT by Only1choice____Freedom (If everything you experienced, believed, lived was a lie, would you want to know the truth?)
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To: hinterlander
I've been watching most of the Senate debates on judicial nominations on C-span, and I've noticed lately that the GOP is getting more p.o.'ed lately...during the debate on Pryor, Santorum was really yelling, and I hope that Sessions remembers to take his BP medication....he looked apoplectic....I suspect that the GOP hasn't decided if they want to change the rules to eliminate the filabuster, which they can do, and then watch the Dems go nuts, or use the issue in the '04 election, and look to pick up 5 or so Senate seats......I don't think they've decided yet..
3 posted on 08/01/2003 9:06:07 AM PDT by ken5050
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To: hinterlander
Remember that these cloture votes indicate the number of votes a nominee would get absent the filibuster. Come election time, the Republicans will be able to say that minority candidate X received the support of a majority of the Senate 15 times, but was kept off the bench by democrats blocking him using technical rules. The Democrats will say, yes but he is an extremist. That wont wash, since a majority of the Senate wouldn't vote for a real extremist.
4 posted on 08/01/2003 10:51:42 AM PDT by thucydides
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To: ken5050
If a Justice steps down, either the Dems will let up, or the Repubs will have to go nuclear. Of course, if Al Gonzales is nominated, neither may happen.
5 posted on 08/01/2003 3:00:03 PM PDT by votelife (Free Bill Pryor)
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