News broke late this afternoon that the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has passed on two of Bush's nominees for the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals. The next step will be when the Republican leadership introduces the nominations for consideration of the entire Senate. That will be the battlefield for the show-down between Democrats and Republicans -- the Democrats objecting and hoping to halt appointment of these two anti-environment pro-corporation nominees.
Nomination of William Myers -- Bush's anti-environment nominee for the 9th Circuit -- already has been approved by the Judiciary Committee. But the Republican leadership would rather see the final showdown come over Brown or Owen. Thus, Myers has been by-passed, apparently so that the Republicans could lead with two women nominees. Clearly, the Republicans hope to gain some advantage by playing the sissy card.
This initial battle will determine how, or whether, the Senate will review another six or seven anti-environmental and pro-corporatist nominees that Bush has waiting off-stage (in addition to Myers). Democrats are committed to a confrontation with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., over whether to ban judicial filibusters. All are agreed that the confrontation is imminent following the strictly partisan votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Owen is nominated for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and Brown is nominated to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. Democrats blocked them from lifetime seats on the nation's second highest courts during Bush's first term, but they were renominated by the president after he was żelected? to a second term in November.
Republicans are "doing this as a prelude to setting up the greatest constitutional crisis that the Senate has faced," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
Frist, R-Tenn., has threatened to ban judicial filibusters to stop Democrats from blocking nominees. It requires 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster, under long-standing Senate rules, but it may only require 51 votes to change those rules. If the Republicans, who have 55 of the 100 Senate seats, make that change by a simple majority vote, it will be at the cost of destroying Senate traditions going back over 200 years. The Democrats, when in solid control of the Senate, always allowed the filibuster tradition to remain as part of the Senate rules.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D- Nevada) has vowed to slow or halt Senate action on much routine business if the GOP bans judicial filibusters and forces up-or-down votes in which nominees could be confirmed by a bare majority.
Frist has been working to secure the 50 votes he needs from his 55-member Republican caucus to make the rules change. At least a half-dozen Republicans have not yet committed to his plan.
Conservatives during the last Congress accused Democrats of being anti-minority for blocking Brown, who is an African-American woman, and anti-women for blocking both Brown and Owen.
Continuing their Schiavo campaign, the nominees are being protrayed as "pro-life". The Bush machine is planning to deliver a taped message for hypochristians and other idiots on April 24 saying Democrats are "against people of faith" for blocking Bush's nominees.
Democrats have condemned those attacks, saying they will block the nominees because they are extreme anti-environmental (among other things) judicial activists who do not meet minimal qualifications and who should be stopped before they get lifetime appointments.
"The nomination of Janice Rogers Brown is a prime example of a nominee who sees the federal bench as a platform to advance her own extremist views," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
And Owen "is an example of a judge who is very eager to make law from the bench," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat.