Senate Confirms Conservative Judicial Nominee

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - The U.S. Senate, allowed to make an up-or-down vote on one of President Bush's judicial nominees, confirmed the nomination of J. Leon Holmes as a U.S. District judge on Tuesday.

The vote was 51-46.

Conservative groups were delighted, but liberal groups -- determined to block any and all conservative, pro-life candidates -- were outraged.

Holmes's confirmation came after 18 months of filibustering by senators who support a woman's right to abortion.

The Family Research Council, delighted with Holmes's confirmation, applauded the 51 Senators who stood up for Holmes and said the vote shows that the U.S. Senate does have a conscience:

"Despite the religious bigotry of the left and strong lobbying efforts by pro-abortion forces, 51 U.S. Senators chose not to take part in character assassination and instead cast their vote based on Leon Holmes' integrity, credentials and legal expertise," said FRC President Tony Perkins in a press release.

"At the end of the day, this was a debate about whether a person who has deeply held religious beliefs can still be a public servant in this country. Thanks to the leadership of Senators Frist, Hatch, Santorum and others of integrity, the answer is still yes," Perkins added.

But the liberal Alliance for Justice criticized Holmes's confirmation to the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

"Holmes is an extreme anti-woman, anti-choice ideologue. He has no business sitting on the federal bench," said Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron. "His confirmation marks a sad day for women's rights."

The Alliance for Justice is offended that Holmes has compared abortion to the Holocaust and that he has expressed the opinion that women should subordinate themselves to their husbands.

"These views cast into serious doubt his ability to provide equal justice to women," the Alliance for Justice said in a press release. The group also said Holmes's public statements about homosexuals "raise serious concerns about his ability to remain objective in cases involving issues of sexual orientation or the separation of church and state."

The Alliance for Justice believes that Holmes will "now have the power to use his seat on the bench to advance his anti-woman agenda," and the group accused the majority of Senators of abdicating their constitutional role of advise and consent.

Elizabeth Cavendish, the interim president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called Leon Holmes one of President Bush's "worst" judicial picks, based on his "longstanding leadership level opposition to a woman's right to choose."

NARAL Pro-Choice America says activists sent more than 50,000 email messages to Congress this past month, urging a vote against the Holmes nomination. "Despite this, the Senate still allowed this dangerous ideologue to make rulings over women's reproductive rights and fundamental freedoms for a generation to come," said Cavendish.

'Anti-Catholic bigotry'

On May 1, 2004, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-9 to send Holmes' nomination to the full Senate without a recommendation of approval, the American Life League noted in a press release.

On Tuesday, before Holmes was confirmed, the American Life League said it was "outraged" by the "latest display of anti-Catholic bigotry" by Senators who tried to block Holmes's nomination to the federal bench.

"Once again we are witnessing an outright attack on a judicial nominee because he is openly pro-life and lives by the tenets of his professed Catholic faith," said Joseph M. Starrs, director of American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church.

The American Life League believes that all pro-life Catholics who come before the Senate will encounter the barrier established by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who "apparently set the new litmus test for the Senate" when he said that "deeply held" religious beliefs disqualified Bush judicial nominee Bill Pryor from being a federal judge.

The American Life League also blasted Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) for "working behind the scenes to convince other senators to vote against" the Holmes nomination.

See Earlier Story:
GOP Senators Targeted in Fight Over Judicial Nominee (2 July 2004)

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