President Bush Re-Submits Controversial Judicial Nominees With Troubling Records on Civil Rights, Other Issues
President Bush today sent the Senate 30 nominations for lifetime positions on the federal district and circuit courts, including 14 candidates for crucial appeals court judgeships, as well as several other judicial nominations. Among the nominees are Charles Pickering and Priscilla Owen – both rejected last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee – and a number of other judges with troubling records on civil rights and other issues, some of whom are opposed by local, state and national civil rights, women’s rights, and other organizations. Today’s district and circuit court nominees had all been nominated for judgeships in the last Congress; new nominees are expected in the near future.
“President Bush is choosing confrontation over consultation and cooperation when it comes to federal judges,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. “For two years, he has steadfastly refused to engage in bipartisan dialogue about judicial nominees. Now that he has Republicans in control of the Senate, he’s counting on a rubber stamp for his far-right nominees, even judges like Charles Pickering and Priscilla Owen, who were defeated after open hearings on their troubling public records.”
Neas said the administration is sending a disturbing signal that there will be no change of course on crucial civil rights issues even in the wake of Trent Lott being forced from his leadership post in the Senate over civil rights concerns. “President Bush has clearly decided that trying to strengthen right-wing domination of the federal judiciary is worth the divisive confirmation battles that will face some of these nominees,” Neas said.
“The future of the federal judiciary is about the day-to-day lives and liberties of all Americans,” said Neas. “Will the courts strip women of their constitutional right to privacy and reproductive choice? Will they undermine the authority of Congress to protect citizens whose civil rights are violated by state agencies or others? Will they prevent the government from acting to safeguard the air we breathe and water we drink? Debates over the federal judiciary are really debates over the meaning of the Constitution and the law of the land for our children and grandchildren.”
Neas said senators must carefully review nominees’ records, and noted that there is no reason to rush the process given that more than 100 federal judges were confirmed during the last Senate session. “The Senate’s constitutional advise and consent responsibilities do not change according to political party control,” said Neas. “It is the obligation of all senators – Republican and Democratic – to ensure that nominees for lifetime positions on the federal bench are fully qualified, and are committed to upholding Americans’ civil and constitutional rights.”