- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Senate Republicans say numbers don't lie, except when Democrats use them to justify the pace of President Bush's judicial nominees.
Republican leaders last week repeated their accusations that many of Mr. Bush's nominees to the federal judiciary remain stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate, leading to a "crisis."
In his first year of office, they point out, Mr. Bush nominated 64 judges to sit on U.S. district and circuit courts; 29 have been confirmed or 45 percent. President Clinton, in his first year of office, offered 48 judicial appointments, and 27 were confirmed or 56 percent.
"Playing the blame game doesn't help solve the crisis that our courts are now facing," said Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, chairman of the Republican Conference. "One in five circuit court seats is vacant and Chief Justice [William H.] Rehnquist has called the situation 'alarming.'"
Republicans say that the nomination process was fair when they controlled the Senate under Mr. Clinton and passed more nominations than the Democrats have since they took control of the chamber last year.
"I've heard a lot of bellyaching by the other side [that] they want to be treated fairly," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. "Clinton was treated fairly. Each member of this committee is entitled to his or her opinion on what happened, but not to his or her own set of facts," Mr. Hatch said.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, says Republicans have "confirmation amnesia." Democrats say that Republicans treated Mr. Clinton's nominations unfairly but deny their holdup of Mr. Bush's nominations is payback. Instead, Democrats say they are approving more nominations than the Republicans did.
To mark the first anniversary of Mr. Bush's first batch of nominees, both parties issued a flood of news releases, background memos and charts earlier last week to back their claims.
"By any measure, one must conclude this president is not being treated fairly," Mr. Hatch said. "Justice delayed is justice denied."
Mr. Hatch scored a victory last night with the Senate's 67-20 vote to confirm Utah law professor Paul Cassell to the U.S. District Court in Utah.
Mr. Bush and President Reagan both submitted 36 nominees for district judges in their first year of office. Of Mr. Reagan's nominees, 33 were confirmed; Mr. Cassell was Mr. Bush's 23rd approved nomination. Mr. Clinton submitted 42 district court nominees and 24 were confirmed. President George Bush, Mr. Bush's father, submitted 16 nominees and 10 were confirmed.
Mr. Bush received more circuit court judge confirmations than either his father or Mr. Clinton in their first year in office, but the president has nominated nearly four times as many candidates. He nominated 28 candidates to be circuit judges, six were confirmed.
Mr. Clinton nominated five with three confirmed, but the elder President Bush nominated eight with five confirmed. Moreover, Mr. Reagan submitted nine and eight were confirmed.
Most of the former presidents submitted their first nominees months after Mr. Bush did, who sent his first batch in May last year. Mr. Clinton sent his first nominees to the Senate in August, Mr. Reagan in July, and Mr. Bush's father sent a few in February, but the bulk came after the August recess.
However, Democrats say their record of passing nominees is superior to that of the Republicans', stressing that they have confirmed 56 nominees in 10 months more than Republicans did during each year of 2000, 1999, 1997 and 1996.
Democrats have arrived at those numbers by comparing calendar years for Republicans, January through December. The 10-month calendar Democrats set for themselves begins on July 20 when the first nominee was confirmed and runs through this month one year and five months after Mr. Bush took office.
Republicans say the Democratic numbers are like comparing apples and oranges. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the focus needs to shift to "apples and apples" statistics.
"It's clear that Democrats are being disingenuous by cooking their books on the amount of nominees they have confirmed," said a Republican leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "They are taking chunks of months out of each year and masking their unfairness."
A fact sheet distributed by Democrats says no nomination hearings were held or judges confirmed during the first half of 2001, when Republicans still controlled the Senate.
Republicans point out that Mr. Bush sent his first batch of nominees to the Senate on May 9, and four weeks later, Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont defected from the Republican Party to become an independent and control of the Senate transferred to the Democrats.
Mr. Hatch had scheduled a hearing during that four-week window but rescheduled when Democrats objected.
During the eight years of the Clinton administration, 374 judges were confirmed just five judges shy of a record set by Mr. Reagan. Yet Democrats complain that in the last two years of Mr. Clinton's presidency, Republicans dragged their feet in the confirmation process.
"We concede that in the eighth year during an election, both sides slow up" in confirming judges, Mr. McConnell said, adding that it is a tradition to do so.


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