Despite 13-Year Low in Vacancies, Bush Claims a “Judicial Crisis”
Statement of Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way.
“Regrettably, President Bush’s statement on judges was a demonstration of Orwellian doublespeak. First, he claims that there is a judicial vacancy crisis when vacancies are actually at their lowest rate in 13 years.
“Second, he claims that the Senate has been obstructionist when it has confirmed more than 120 judges since July of 2001 and has only filibustered two.
“And by signaling that he will work with the Senate Republican leadership to change Senate rules that have worked well for over 200 years, he is the one who threatens to undermine our carefully balanced constitutional scheme of checks and balances and create an unprecedented institutional crisis in the United States Senate.
“Because the President is so determined to pack the federal judiciary with right-wing ideologues who would turn back the clock on environmental protection, civil rights, reproductive freedom and privacy, religious liberty and so much more, he is willing to promote a Senate rules change that would be nothing but an irresponsible power play to achieve his ideological objectives.
“The opportunity for senators to engage in unlimited debate on important national issues and nominations has often served the nation well. Again and again, this time-honored parliamentary tool has promoted bipartisan consultation and consensus. Both parties have frequently used the filibuster to require at least 60 votes to end debate on controversial judicial nominees as well as legislation. We urge Senate Republicans and Democrats to defeat any attempt to destroy the very essence of what has made the Senate such a unique and effective institution.
“It is becoming apparent that this is a blatant effort by the president and Republican leaders to construct a Senate scenario that would ensure a swift partisan rubberstamping of Supreme Court nominees ‘in the mold of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.’”