Frist Calls for 100-Hour Debate Limit on Judicial Nominees

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) Wednesday called on Democrats to limit their debate on President Bush's judicial nominees to 100 hours and then to guarantee confirmation votes on the nominees. In exchange, Frist said he would not change Senate rules on filibusters.

"Judicial nominees are being denied. Justice is being denied. The solution is simple, allow senators to do their jobs and vote," Frist said in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Frist's proposal is "a big wet kiss to the far right."

A constitutional law group said it supports the Republican leader's proposal. "This represents an imminently reasonable and constitutionally sound approach to break the gridlock over judicial nominees," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice in a statement.

"The use of a filibuster to prevent consideration of judicial nominees is not only wrong but reflects a stridently unfair treatment of nominees," said Sekulow. He added that no one wants to do away with debates on the judicial nominees, "but every nominee deserves an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor."

"That's exactly what Senator Frist is proposing and we believe this represents a workable resolution to this impasse over judicial nominees," added Sekulow.

The Judicial Confirmation Network also praised Frist's proposal.

"By agreeing to schedule extended debate on every appellate judicial nominee, Majority Leader Frist has ensured that all views will be heard, pro and con, on every judge," said Wendy Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network in a statement.

"Every name submitted by the President will be thoroughly debated by the Senate and examined by the American people," said Long. She called Frist's offer "a rational compromise that is more than fair to both Republicans and Democrats." Long said, "it also preserves untouched the tradition of the legislative filibuster."

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