The final member of the three judges guaranteed an up-or-down vote for their confirmations to the federal appellate court has been confirmed. William Pryor, who had already started serving on the court due to a recess appointment, won confirmation by a 53-45 vote in today’s Senate session:
With a vote of 53-45, Pryor was approved for 11th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Atlanta-based court that handles federal appeals from Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
President Bush gave Pryor a recess appointment in February 2004 after Democrats filibustered his confirmation. That appointment would have ended this year if Pryor had not been confirmed by the Senate.
The Senate has confirmed three of President Bush’s most-wanted appellate nominees in less than three weeks after a deal struck by Senate centrists looking to avoid a partisan battle over judicial filibusters.
Three Republicans voted against Pryor’s confirmation, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee, presumably in protest of Pryor’s opposition to abortion. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Ken Salazr of Colorado were the only Democrats to vote in favor of Pryor’s confirmation; Nelson also supported Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen.
That completes the commitment made by the so-called Gang of Fourteen to allow Bush’s picks to come to the Senate floor. However, two Democrats signaled their willingness to support two more Bush nominees now that the stalemate has been at least temporarily resolved. According to NRO’s Bench Memos blog, Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow announced that they will support Michigan judges David McKeague and Richard Griffin to the 6th District Court of Appeal, which they had not done before the compromise.
The real test for the compromise will be the later nominations. Expect to see Henry Saad and William Myers filibustered into oblivion, and the Seven Dwarves to allow it. The entire exercise is designed to set the two nominees up as a precedent that legitimizes the use of the filibuster for the upcoming Supreme Court openings. If anyone else gets filibustered, however, the deal will rapidly fall apart.