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.