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April 21, 2005
Frist Ready To Pull The Trigger?

CQ reader Dafydd ab Hugh notes that the AP believes that Senator Bill Frist might finally bring some of the embargoed judicial nominations to the Senate floor next week, if he can get them out of committee:

The Republican-controlled Senate is moving closer to a showdown over whether Democrats can continue filibustering President Bush's judicial nominees now that two of the White House's favored court appointees are scheduled for final committee approval.

Texas judge Priscilla Owen and California judge Janice Rogers Brown, who were blocked by Democrats during Bush's first term, were up for approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Owen, nominated by Bush for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, and Brown, seeking a lifetime slot on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, secured committee approval during Bush's first term.

However, they were blocked from confirmation by Democratic filibuster threats and were renominated by the president after he won a second term in November. Democrats consider the nominees too conservative.

Frist and the GOP want to key a filibuster rule change on either Owens or Brown, and sources say especially Janice Rogers Brown due to her inspiring life story and solid body of judicial work in California. The key will be whether any Democrats attend the committee hearing today. Most Democrats have quietly boycotted the hearings to deprive the GOP of a quorum which would enable the committee to move the nominations to the full Senate.

They have been quiet about their boycott -- and the GOP have been almost as silent as the Democrats, for reasons which defy explanation. The Democrats want their obstructionism to remain as covert as possible, having seen what overt heel-dragging cost them in the last election. Why the GOP has obliged them until this week remains a mystery. Until pressure came from the grass roots to start doing something about the filibuster over the past two weeks, the Republicans never publicized this childish Democrat strategy of taking the ball and going home with it. Why not? Why hasn't Arlen Specter held press conferences at each Judiciary Committee meeting to announce who didn't bother to show up for work that day? Why don't we have attendance reports flying into every e-mail inbox?

Let's hope that this really does mean that Frist and Specter have decided that Brown and Owen have been left dangling for long enough and that the GOP finally will act to defend their reputations and their nominations, as well as over 200 years of Constitutional practice. Until I see it, however ...

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 21, 2005 7:18 AM

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