Judicial Nominations Battle Yields New Milestone Delay
(CNSNews.com) - The nearly two-year delay of the Senate's "advice and consent" to President Bush on a nominee to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is about to produce another record. Conservative activists promoting the president's judicial nominees say that, next month, William G. Myers will have waited two years for a second vote on his nomination.
"It's the longest waiting for a second cloture vote of any nominee in Senate history." Manuel Miranda, former judiciary nominations counsel to Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), told Cybercast News Service. "This is the first time that we know of where a nominee has waited in two Congresses and he hasn't had a second cloture vote.
"The Senate leadership simply won't push him," Miranda charged.
Myers' first cloture vote - a vote to end unlimited debate on a pending bill or nomination - was July 20, 2004. Cloture votes require a 60-member majority to pass rather than the Senate norm of 50 percent of a quorum plus one vote.
Though Myers was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2004, the full Senate has never considered his nomination as supporters argue is required by the Constitution. The Senate has only voted on whether or not to vote on his nomination, and Myers lost that ballot.
Miranda - chairman of the Third Branch Conference (TBC), a coalition of more than 100 conservative organizations working to end Senate filibustering - cites two causes for the delay.
"The Senate leadership is basically too afraid of the 'Gang of 14' to push Myers for fear that they might have to at some point be called on to press a nuclear button," Miranda said.
The "Gang of 14" refers to the bipartisan group of "moderate" senators who joined together to stop the Bush administration from using the "nuclear option." That phrase is used to describe the power of the vice president - as president of the Senate - to rule filibusters of nominations out of order and force senators to vote on presidential nominees.
"The opposition to William Myers is entirely about trial lawyers and profits," Miranda added. "His principle fault is, like most of the other Bush judges that have been opposed, is who his clients have been, and unfortunately he has made the fateful error of feeding his family by working for what some people would consider to be the 'wrong' clients."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter's office has a simpler explanation, according to Courtney Boone, Specter's press secretary.
"Nominations can take a great length of time," Boone told Cybercast News Service "Reviews take a while."
Myers' nomination has been filibustered for two years. Judge Terrence Boyle, nominated to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2001, has waited longer than any other judicial nominee in history for a confirmation vote. William James Haynes was also nominated to the Fourth Circuit Court and has been waiting nearly three years for consideration.
Miranda believes President Bush has the lowest confirmation rate for Circuit Court judges of any president in history.
"Today George Bush's confirmation rate (70 percent) for circuit judges is the lowest of any president," Miranda in a press release Wednesday. "The circuit courts stand at 10 percent vacancy rate. And yet the Senate walks slowly."
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