Vicious Attacks On Senators Daschle And Leahy Seek To Force Speedy Confirmation Of Judicial Nominees

Report Documents Right Wing’s Campaign to Exploit War on Terrorism, Short-Circuit Senate Scrutiny of Controversial Bush Nominees to Courts

People For the American Way Foundation today released a report detailing the vicious campaign that right-wing groups have employed since Sept. 11 to try to force quick confirmation of President Bush’s judicial nominees. The report, How Low Will They Go? The Right Wing’s Attack Campaign To Advance Judicial Nominations, documents attacks that go far beyond the usual partisan rhetoric—including attacks that challenge the patriotism and integrity of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The PFAWF report is available at: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/right/HowLow.pdf

"Nominees for lifetime appointments to our federal courts deserve close and careful scrutiny," said PFAWF President Ralph G. Neas said. "This attack campaign is designed to undercut that scrutiny, which is a critical responsibility that our Constitution confers on the Senate. Even worse, these right-wing groups have stooped to new levels by trying to use the war on terrorism to further their own political agenda for the courts. Senators must resist this campaign of intimidation."

How Low Will They Go? reveals how this attack campaign was first crafted. Detailing a memo written by a Republican staffer and enthusiastically endorsed by at least one person in the White House, the report reveals how the Right has used the Sept. 11 tragedies as a vehicle to press for speedy confirmation of Bush’s judicial nominations by falsely claiming these nominees are needed on the bench to order wiretaps and search warrants necessary for fighting terrorism.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks, right-wing groups and their Senate GOP allies have held news conferences and issued statements to put Senators Daschle and Leahy on notice: confirm the president’s judicial nominees or we’ll use the war on terrorism to wage war on you. As How Low Will They Go? explains, the post-Sept. 11 strategies used by the far-right leaders include:

Falsely suggesting that federal appeals court vacancies are having a negative effect on fighting terrorism—even though the judges who serve on these courts do not have responsibility for granting search warrants or approving wiretaps.
Questioning the patriotism and integrity of Senate Democrats, including placing ads in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle that challenge his commitment to fighting terrorism.
Claiming that Senate Democrats are engaging in "racial profiling."
Calling for Senator Leahy’s removal as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Unsuccessfully attempting to link judicial confirmations to foreign aid.

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