Gop Turns Senate into Bush Campaign Auxiliary on Judges

Thursday’s Scheduled Cloture, Judiciary Committee Votes ‘Nakedly Partisan’

Senate Republican leaders plan to stage a series of cloture votes and a Judiciary Committee vote on four controversial judicial nominees on Thursday. People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said the votes demonstrated GOP leaders’ willingness to run roughshod over Senate rules and traditions in order to satisfy the demands of President Bush’s campaign strategy.

“Senate Republican leaders appear to be taking their marching orders from Karl Rove,” said Neas. “President Bush is campaigning on a phony ‘obstructionism’ charge even though the vast majority of his judicial nominees have been confirmed. Today’s votes on controversial nominees late in an election year are designed for one thing only – to provide more fodder for deceptive campaign soundbites.”

Cloture votes are scheduled on three controversial nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit – Henry Saad, David McKeague and Richard Griffin. Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch violated longstanding committee tradition to push those judges to the floor over the vigorous opposition of both home-state senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. This break with procedure perpetuates an unjust situation in the Sixth Circuit dating to the Clinton administration, when GOP senators blocked qualified nominees, including one who waited four years for a hearing. The White House has stubbornly rebuffed diligent efforts by Sens. Levin and Stabenow to reach a fair and bipartisan solution.

Sen. Hatch has scheduled a committee vote on Claude Allen, a Virginian nominated to a 4th Circuit seat that has traditionally been held by a Marylander and whose confirmation would leave Maryland underrepresented on the court of appeals. Even though Hatch has acknowledged the legitimate concerns of Maryland’s senators, who vehemently oppose Allen’s confirmation, he is pushing the nomination to the floor in an apparent bid to boost the number of judges that White House officials can complain are pending before the Senate.

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