Republicans Mark Four-Year Anniversary of Owen's Nomination

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:22pm EDT

( - It's been four years -- and Republicans are counting -- since President Bush first nominated Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to serve on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

But Owen is still waiting for the U.S. Senate to vote yes or no on her nomination.

On Monday, to mark the four-year anniversary, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) will address the Senate, once again urging his Democratic colleagues to allow an up-or-down vote on Owen's nomination (and others).

During his speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Cornyn said he "will offer his own insight into the qualifications and character of this distinguished jurist, devoted public servant, and extraordinary Texan."

Cornyn served with Owen on the Texas bench, and he considers her a highly qualified and experienced judge -- one who "understands that a judge's role is not to advance a political or social agenda."

But Owen's liberal critics, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, have railed against her conservative, pro-life views.

Cornyn is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has three times sent Owen's nomination to the full Senate, where Democrats have filibustered it.

Also on Monday, the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters plans to hold a press conference in Washington to demand a vote on "filibuster reform."

The coalition wants the Senate to change its rules, to end filibusters of judicial nominations (but not filibusters of legislation).

The proposed rule change is strongly opposed by Democrats, who have threatened to stop doing Senate business if it happens.

The option of changing Senate rules is expected to move front and center on Monday, as senators return to Washington from a week-long break. It's not clear when or if Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) will schedule a vote on changing Senate rules.

According to Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Senate leaders are still talking privately, trying to work out a deal that would avoid a change in Senate rules.

"I know that Senator Frist and Senator Reid both want to work this out," Hagel said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"My goodness, you've got 100 United States senators. Some of us might be moderately intelligent enough to figure this out," Hagel said. "We need to work through this."

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