August 01, 2003

Senate Democrats Block Pryor Nomination to Bench

Former Blair cabinet minister Claire Short (who
resigned in protest over
misdeeds on Iraq) said publicly that Dr. Kelly's death
was the result of an "abuse of power" and that
the-shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony-Blair was
"implicated." And the peculiar and seemingly pointless
Department of Homeland Insecurity warning about the
possibility of suicide highjackings (duh? this is news
to who?)caused a strange row with the Australian
government, which forced the Homeland Insecurity Dept.
to issue a retraction about Australia being a target.
Tell me, which is more dangerous: to be on the
_resident's enemies list or to be counted as a
"trusted ally"? Oh, yes, here are some questions not
asked at the _resident's "press conference" earlier
this week: "Mr. _resident, since the death toll for US
GIs has increased significantly since you spoke to the
nation from an aircraft carrier, standing in front of
a banner that read 'Mission Accomplished' do you think
now that statement was rash or inopportune? Mr.
_resident, since the death toll for US GIs has
increased significantly since you remarked, 'Bring 'em
on' do you think now that the statement was perhaps
inappropriate? Mr. _resident, what do you say to those
critics who say this administration is in violation of
both the US Constitution and the UN Charter? Mr.
_resident, do you have any comment on the reports that
you received specific intelligence on imminent
Al-Qaeda attacks you in your August 6, 2001 briefing?
Mr. _resident, there has been widespread debate over
the so-called "sixteen words" on Niger uranium in your
SOTU speech earlier this year, what about some of the
other statements in that speech and others made by
your administration, for example would you like to
comment on former Senator Max Cleland's remarks about
the Congressional 9/11 report showing that your
administration knew prior to the SOTU that claims
about a connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein
were baseless? Mr. _resident,..." You get the idea.
Meanwhile, the Democrats continue their heroic
struggle (yes, it is heroic, yes, it is dangerous
politically, and yes, I said "the Democrats") to block
the _resident's chilling federal court nominations.
Here is an update on this largely ignored, but
profoundly important and principled stand (further
evidence of what Ralph Nada either cannot understand
or chooses to ignore)...
Senate Democrats Block Pryor Nomination to Bench
Jesse J. Holland
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, July 31, 2003; 10:54 AM

Senate Republicans on Thursday lost their third
attempt this week to push one of President Bush's
judicial nominees through the Senate, with Democrats
blocking conservative Alabama Attorney General William
Pryor from the U.S. Appeals Court.

Pryor could not get the 60 votes needed from the
100-member Senate to win a seat on the 11th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, leading
Republicans to immediately denounce the third
Democratic filibuster this week.

Pryor only got 53 votes in the Senate, which is split
with 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one independent
senator, Jim Jeffords of Vermont. The only Democrats
to vote for him were Sens. Zell Miller of Georgia and
Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

"A majority of Democrats has made it clear to a
majority of senators that they are determined to deny
the Senate the right to vote and to deny a nominee
what he or she deserves, an up-or-down vote," Senate
Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said.

Democrats also have blocked Texas judge Priscilla Owen
and District of Columbia lawyer Miguel Estrada from
being confirmed this week.

Democrats say Hatch rushed Pryor's confirmation vote
before they could finish an investigation into his
fund-raising activities for a GOP attorneys general

Pryor also is an ardent opponent of abortion rights
for women, and has criticized the Supreme Court's Roe
v. Wade decision. But he has said he will follow the
current law if confirmed for the regional courts, one
step below the Supreme Court.

Democrats don't believe him. "Mr. Pryor's litigation
position, public statements and his writings leave
little doubt that he is committed to using the law,
not simply to advance a conservative agenda, but a
narrow and extremely ideological agenda," said Sen.
Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)

Republicans say Democrats' opposition to Pryor
demonstrates an anti-Catholic bias because of his
anti-abortion stance. "This litmus test that is being
applied is ultimately, is ultimately a religious one,"
said Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)

Democrats deny the charge. "These charges are false,
they are baseless, they are offensive, and they are
really beneath the dignity of a Senate committee
tasked with making very important decisions on the
future of a federal judiciary," said Sen. Dianne
Feinstein (D-Calif.)

A vote on Pryor's nomination was the latest in a
series of votes Republicans are pushing to highlight
Democrats' opposition to Bush's nominees.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans lost a seventh
filibuster vote in their fight to make Estrada the
first Hispanic on the federal appeals court in the
nation's capital, falling five short of the 60 needed
to cut off debate. They also lost their third vote on
Tuesday to put Owen on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in New Orleans.

They will try on Friday to push California judge
Carolyn Kuhl, who wants a seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Republicans have been pressuring Democrats to confirm
Bush's nominees.

"The American people deserve it," said Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. "They understand that we
are not fulfilling our responsibility in this body
without an up-or-down vote. That is our job. That is
our responsibility in advise-and-consent."

But the GOP have fallen short of the 60 votes needed
to cut off debate and move any of these nominations to

Democrats also appear to be setting up another
filibuster for Henry Saad, an Arab-American judge from
Michigan whom Bush has nominated to the federal
appeals court.

Saad would be the first Arab American judge on the 6th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which
handles federal appeals from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky
and Tennessee.

Michigan has a large Arab population, but Michigan
Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow oppose Saad
because Republicans blocked their two nominees during
the Clinton administration. They want the White House
to compromise with them by setting up a bipartisan
nomination commission, and "we oppose moving forward
until that resolution is achieved," Levin said.

2003 The Associated Press

Posted by richard at August 1, 2003 06:31 PM