This afternoon, Sen. Patrick Leahy attempted to secure a floor vote on the nomination of Jane Branstetter Stranch of Tennessee to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the vote, claiming that the GOP needed more time to consider her nomination.
President Obama nominated Stranch on August 6, 2009, with the support of both her home state senators. The Judiciary Committee approved her nomination with bipartisan support in November. She has been waiting for a confirmation vote since.
Today, People For the American Way called on the U.S. Senate to confirm President Obama's nominee to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Joseph Greenaway.
"Judge Greenaway is a competent, qualified, fair-minded nominee who should be confirmed for this position as soon as possible," said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way. "He was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee. There's absolutely no reason to delay his confirmation to this post."
In New Hampshire, the state Republican Party attempted to defend Senator John Sununu’s support of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito by calling Sununu “an independent voice for New Hampshire.” People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert said, “If John Sununu is an independent voice, why has he voted for every single one of President Bush’s most extreme judicial nominees? On the most important votes he’s taken confirming nominees to lifetime seats on the federal bench, he’s voted in lockstep with George W. Bush. He’s certainly distinguished himself as one of President Bush’s most loyal allies; he can’t reasonably be called ‘independent.’”
In response to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s move to hold up Senate business by requiring the clerk to read a 500-page amendment, People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert said, "Once again, the Senate Republicans are throwing a fit, demanding to have more Bush judicial nominees confirmed in the waning months of President Bush’s term. This time, they’re gumming up the works in the Senate with a parliamentary maneuver, effectively shutting down the Senate as it works on the global warming bill."
Sen. John McCain’s speech about judges today stuck to the script written by right-wing ideologues and followed by President George W. Bush. People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert said, "Here’s what McCain was really telling the party base: If you liked George W. Bush’s nominees, you’re going to love the judges John McCain will put on the bench."
Statement on judicial nominations by People For the American Way president Kathryn Kolbert:
"In the waning days of President Bush’s unpopular presidency, Senator Arlen Specter and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are throwing temper tantrums over judges. They’ve even repeatedly threatened to shut down the Senate — which would hold up crucial legislation as the economy teeters on the edge of recession — if they don’t get their way.”
"Senators McConnell and Specter conveniently forget that over 300 of President Bush's judicial nominees have been confirmed — a greater percentage than were confirmed for President Clinton. More importantly, the longstanding and bipartisan Senate practice known as the 'Thurmond Rule' dictates that only non-controversial judicial nominees should be processed in the months preceding a presidential election.
"Senator Pat Leahy, who has gone far above and beyond what is required as committee chairman, announced that three additional federal circuit court nominees would be confirmed in short order. But that didn’t suit McConnell and Specter. They’re simply not interested in mainstream nominees that can win bipartisan backing — not when there are political points to be scored. Instead they’re playing to the base by pushing three highly controversial nominees.
"Senator Specter apparently learned a lesson four years ago when he nearly lost a primary to Patrick Toomey, the handpicked candidate of the Religious Right and Club for Growth. Ever since, Specter has been a pit bull for right-wing judges. That’s bad for Pennsylvania and bad for America.
"Senators Specter and McConnell will continue their pressure tactics around judges, but Senate Democrats must stand strong. The clock is ticking for President Bush, but it’s already run out for his controversial nominees."
People For the American Way has background information on the three controversial nominees being pushed by Specter and McConnell: Peter Keisler for the DC Circuit and Robert Conrad Jr. and Steve Matthews for the Fourth Circuit.
Mining, coal and cattle industry lobbyist William G. Myers III is President Bush’s latest nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Myers has amassed an incredible record of promoting environmental degradation and harm to the interests of Native Americans, both from his position as an industry lobbyist and from a short stint as solicitor for the Bush Administration Department of the Interior.