- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2001

The White House is signaling it will not bypass the Senate during congressional recesses to appoint judicial nominees bogged down in the Democratic-held body.
The administration will leave the heavy lifting of confirming nominees to key Republicans, who have blocked numerous spending bills and employed procedural moves to try and advance 64 nominees.
Only 18 circuit and district court judges introduced since May have been confirmed, compared with 27 confirmations for former President Bill Clinton to date in his first year in office.
The administration has expressed frustration with what is perceived as a deliberate attempt by Democrats to stall the nominees. However, it is not yet willing to employ the recess appointment procedure often used by Mr. Clinton when Republicans blocked appointments later in his term.
"Right now, we encourage [the Senate] to act on their own accordingly," said a White House official. "We are continuing to work with the Senate and encourage the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings as expeditiously as possible.
"The American people deserve to have judicial spots filled. With as many vacancies as there are, it is slowing the pursuit of justice across the country," the official said.
Despite the holdup of his parties nominees, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, a leading critic of Mr. Clinton's recess appointments, still wants to work through the process.
"We will keep raising this issue to the American people until the Democrats will be forced to work with us in a bipartisan way to confirm President Bush's judicial nominations," said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican.
Vice President Richard B. Cheney called it "unacceptable" that only one in four of Mr. Bush's nominees have been given a Senate hearing.
"The deliberate slowing of the confirmation process is unworthy of the United States Senate," Mr. Cheney said in a speech last week before the Federalist Society convention, a conservative legal group.
"These nominations are not being held up for lack of support. On the contrary, few doubt they would be swiftly confirmed by the entire Senate if only given the chance," Mr. Cheney said.
David Carle, spokesman for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said as many circuit court judges have been confirmed this year as in the entire first year of former President Bush, and two more than the same period for Mr. Clinton.
Mr. Bush has nominated 28 circuit judges with five confirmed, Mr. Clinton nominated five with three confirmed and the elder Mr. Bush nominated eight circuit judges with five confirmed.
"Some Republicans are terrified that Democrats will treat this administration's nominees as poorly as they treated President Clinton's nominees, and the record shows otherwise," Mr. Carle said.
The president's father submitted 24 nominees his first year and 15 were confirmed. Former President Ronald Reagan nominated 45 judges his first year and 41 were confirmed.
Democrats say this year's confirmation process was slowed by the midyear power shift when Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont switched from Republican to independent, and the committee's diversion to passing anti-terrorism legislation after the September 11 terrorist attack.


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