White House Unilateralism on Judges Offers No Solution


Contact: Nathan Richter or Tracy Duckett at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Constitution calls for advice and consent, not dictate and demand

Today, without bipartisan consultation with the Senate, the White House released a new plan to push faster confirmation for President Bush’s judicial nominations. People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said the White House proposal was “pure politics in the unilateralist style that is the hallmark of this administration.” (Click here to learn about the President’s plan.)

“Six days before the mid-term congressional elections, President Bush continues his blatant efforts to politicize the federal judiciary,” said Neas. “By adopting a unilateralist approach to a situation that begs for consultation, compromise, and consensus, the President assures continued confrontation.”

“If President Bush were serious about minimizing confirmation battles, he would engage in genuine bipartisan consultation with senators, both about nominees and this proposed process,” said Neas. “When it comes to judicial nominations, the Constitution calls for advice and consent, not dictate and demand.”

Neas noted that Bush has been falsely claiming on the campaign trail that “The Senate has got a lousy record on my judges.” In fact, the Senate has confirmed 80 Bush judges. Another 17 have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and are ready for Senate action, but Republicans blocked them from a Senate confirmation vote before the recess. If those nominees had been allowed to receive a vote, only about 30 Bush judicial nominees would be awaiting confirmation.

“This Senate has approved nominees at a far faster rate than the Republican-controlled Senate did during the Clinton administration, when a brazenly ideological stalling campaign caused the number of appeals court vacancies to more than double,” said Neas. “In fact, if the Senate continues to confirm judges at this pace, it will be the most judges confirmed in any comparable four year period in our history.”

Neas said it is not only appropriate but imperative that senators continue to review carefully the records of President Bush’s judicial nominees and require that they demonstrate a commitment to upholding the role of the federal government in protecting Americans’ constitutional rights and liberties and dealing with major national issues.

“Too much is at stake to allow the entire federal judiciary to become dominated by judges whose judicial philosophy would turn back the clock on 65 years of achievements in civil rights, environmental protection, religious liberty, reproductive rights and privacy, and more,” said Neas. “We need more debate on the consequences of Bush’s efforts to fill the federal courts with ultraconservative judges, not less.”

Ralph G. Neas testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution on October 10, 2002.