Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday unanimously opposed President Bush’s most recent judicial nominee, signaling they intend to try filibustering his nomination.
Over those objections, Republicans managed to push White House lawyer Brett M. Kavanaugh through the committee yesterday on a 10-8 vote to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Majority Leader Bill Frist promised to have Mr. Kavanaugh, 41, confirmed to the nation’s second-highest court by Memorial Day.
“Brett Kavanaugh is one step closer to getting the fair, up-or-down vote that he’s been waiting on for three years,” the Tennessee Republican said. “I look forward to a full and fair debate of his nomination on the floor of the Senate and am confident that Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the appellate bench before Memorial Day.”
While Democrats on the committee acknowledged Mr. Kavanaugh has “top-flight credentials,” they said his background is overtly political.
“While his academic credentials are undeniably top-notch, he has largely devoted his legal talent to helping notch political victories for his party,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said yesterday.
Republicans accused Democrats on the committee of trying to exact political revenge on the Bush administration by trying to block Mr. Kavanaugh.
In years past, all nominees who emerged from the Judiciary Committee on a straight party-line vote as Mr. Kavanaugh was were filibustered on the floor of the Senate. Those filibusters were broken last year by the so-called “Gang of 14” who cleared the block and avoided the threat by Mr. Frist to establish a new Senate rule to prohibit judicial filibusters.
That group met this week, and no one said that Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination rose to the “extraordinary circumstances” that would warrant a filibuster.
But two other Bush nominees in the pipeline did raise concerns with the group. Among them is federal Judge Terrence W. Boyle, who is nominated to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats have accused him of conflicts of interest.
“Once again, there is a palpable sense of frustration out there over the gimmicks and delays that continue to prevent good men and women from being seated on the federal bench,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican. “We can do better.”
Mr. Schumer dismissed such suggestions.
“Those who complain that the process has become politicized and that ideology shouldn’t matter should take their quarrel to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said.
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