BUSH MAKES 2nd RECESS APPOINTMENT, NAMES PRYOR TO 11th CIRCUIT.
Like the Jan. 16 recess appointment of Judge Charles W. Pickering of Mississippi to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Bush's decision was announced late on a Friday evening, before Congress returns, and the candidate was sworn in later the same night.
Bush's action was seen as helping his presidential candidacy with the religious right - Pryor is a Catholic who personally opposes abortion although he says he would apply the law - but Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the front-running Democratic candidate, said the move would help Kerry by bringing home to voters how Bush has tried to politicize the federal courts.
He criticized the appointment as "yet another action to diminish his credibility with the American people" and said Bush had named another nominee with a "history of partisanship and pursuing an ideological agenda."
The ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), issued a statement with similar criticisms.
"Judicial activists like Mister Pryor are committed to an ideological agenda that puts corporate interests over the public's interests and that would roll back the hard-won rights of consumer, minorities, women and Americans with disabilities," he said.
Both Republicans and Democrats saw the action as an attempt by Bush, who has been under attack from the conservative wing of his party over his budget and immigration policy, to energize his conservative base.
The move came after Kentucky Democratic Attorney General Ben Chandler defeated Republican state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr Nov. 17 for a congressional seat by 12 percentage points, a clear sign support for Bush at the local level is not as strong as it was a few months ago.
Another indication the voters are getting energized, but not by Bush, came among the independents and conservatives who voted in the Nov. 17 Wisconsin presidential primary.
According to exit polls, 40 percent of the independents voted for Sen. John Edwards (D-MA), a plaintiffs' attorney, compared with 28 percent for Kerry, and 44 percent of the Republicans voted for Edwards compared with 30 percent for Kerry. Kerry, however, captured 48 percent of the Democratic vote compared with 31 percent for Edwards.
The surprisingly close second-place showing by Edwards increased his odds for a shot at the presidency and, alternatively, to be on the ballot as the Democrat's vice presidential candidate.
Bush's recess appointment of Pryor, however, could be what he needs to get conservatives actively supporting him again, particularly in Alabama, where Pryor is from, and in California, home to two of the three still-blocked nominees: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl, who has been nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and California Supreme Court Justice Janice R. Brown, who has been nominated to the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
Brown also is expected to capture votes for Bush in Alabama because she is an African American whose parents were sharecroppers on an Alabama farm.
The remaining blocked nominee is Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla R. Owen to the Fifth Circuit.
All three blocked nominees are women opposed to abortion.
The recess appointments of Pickering and Pryor last only until the second session of the 108th Congress adjourns in January 2005, rather than a lifetime appointment a federal judge receives if the nomination is approved by the Senate.
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|Publication:||Liability & Insurance Week|
|Date:||Feb 23, 2004|
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