Cease-fire over federal judges: but the war for the soul of the judiciary continues.Despite a truce called in May, which led to the confirmation of five controversial judicial nominees, the struggle between Democrats and Republicans over the philosophical direction of the federal judiciary has not abated Abated, an ancient technical term applied in masonry and metal work to those portions which are sunk beneath the surface, as in inscriptions where the ground is sunk round the letters so as to leave the letters or ornament in relief.
From 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica . The fight centers on President George W. Bush's commitment to filling vacant federal judgeships with conservatives whom Democrats perceive as being at the far right of mainstream judicial thought
Civil rights groups and Democratic senators have been working prevent an ideological right turn among federal judges, who are appointed to life terms and have the power to roll back laws ensuring civil rights, reproductive choice, workplace safety, clean air, and privacy.
Bush's renomination of several conservatives to the U.S. Court of Appeals in his second term has spurred the latest round of opposition from Senate Democrats. Using the filibuster filibuster, term used to designate obstructionist tactics in legislative assemblies. It has particular reference to the U.S. Senate, where the tradition of unlimited debate is very strong. It was not until 1917 that the Senate provided for cloture (i.e. , or extended debate, Democrats successfully blocked the full Senate from voting on the confirmation of the nominees. Ending a filibuster requires at least 60 votes for cloture--the closing of debate. Although they hold only 44 seats in the Senate, Democrats have been able to maintain their filibusters.
In May, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) attempted to circumvent the regular Senate rule-making process to break the Democratic filibuster. Frist proposed a move that would end the judicial debate with a simple majority of 51 votes.
Democrats called Frist's maneuver the Nuclear Option. If he succeeded, they threatened to stop the Senate from conducting any further business. With Frist fully intent to carry out his plan, the prospect of a Senate shutdown loomed.
A last-minute compromise struck by a bipartisan group of 14 moderates averted the Nuclear Option and preserved the right to filibuster. But it also cleared three of Bush's most conservative judicial nominees: Priscilla Richman Owen, Janice Rogers Brown Janice Rogers Brown (born May 11, 1949 in Greenville, Alabama) is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She previously was an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, holding that post from May 2, 1996 until her , and William H. Pryor. Nominees David W. McKeague and Richard A. Griffin have since also been confirmed.
Brown, an African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. , is considered the most conservative of Bush's nominees by civil rights groups. They fear she will attempt to turn the clock back on affirmative action affirmative action, in the United States, programs to overcome the effects of past societal discrimination by allocating jobs and resources to members of specific groups, such as minorities and women. and laws against age discrimination, housing discrimination, and corporate abuse. Owen tried to rewrite Texas law to create higher barriers for women seeking legal abortions, and Pryor has called for the repeal or weakening of major provisions of the Voting Bights Act of 1965.
Between 1995 and 2000, the Senate Judiciary chair blocked the confirmation vote of more than 60 of former President Bill Clintons judicial nominees. By contrast, the Senate confirmed 204, or 95%, of Bush's nominees for judgeships in his first term. Only 15, or 7.4%, of those judges were black
The tenuous compromise could fall apart during future battles to confirm nominees for the Supreme Court. In addition to replacing Chief Justice William Rehnquist Noun 1. William Rehnquist - United States jurist who served as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court from 1972 until 1986, when he was appointed chief justice (born in 1924)
Rehnquist, William Hubbs Rehnquist , who is afflicted af·flict
tr.v. af·flict·ed, af·flict·ing, af·flicts
To inflict grievous physical or mental suffering on.
[Middle English afflighten, from afflight, with thyroid cancer Thyroid Cancer Definition
Thyroid cancer is a disease in which the cells of the thyroid gland become abnormal, grow uncontrollably, and form a mass of cells called a tumor. , Bush may name one or two justices to the court. All of the sitting justices except Clarence Thomas Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American jurist and has been an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1991. He is the second African American to serve on the nation's highest court, after Justice Thurgood Marshall. , 57, are over the age of 65.
Rights groups fear that Bush will make good on his promise to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who are ideologically in step with right-wing justices Antonin Scalia and Thomas.