- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Majority Leader Bill Frist said yesterday that he will not compromise on the “constitutional principle” of giving judicial nominees final up-or-down confirmation votes on the Senate floor.

“Are we going to step back from that principle?” the Tennessee Republican asked reporters. “The answer to that is ‘no.’”

Democrats have been suggesting a compromise by which they would grant final votes for some of President Bush’s filibustered nominees in exchange for Republicans’ forgoing the so-called “nuclear option” — a parliamentary procedure that would ban filibusters against judicial nominees.

“There is a way to avoid the nuclear shutdown, and I’m working with my colleagues to put that plan in place,’ Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said earlier this week. “As part of any resolution, the nuclear option must be off the table.”

Mr. Reid declined to provide any specifics about his plan to end the standoff.

Similar negotiations have been under way for months, and Republicans have said they would not budge on the constitutional issue of giving judges final up-or-down confirmation votes as they say the Founding Fathers clearly intended.

“The principle of getting fair up-or-down votes on judicial nominees is fundamental to the discussions going on among members and at the leadership level between Senator Reid and me,” said Mr. Frist, adding that he will continue negotiating with Mr. Reid.

Among the few Republicans openly discussing a compromise that would refuse some Bush nominees is Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter.

“If enough of the president’s nominees can be confirmed, we may be able to deflate the controversy without a vote on the constitutional/nuclear option,” the Pennsylvanian said last week on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the showdown is more about future vacancies on the Supreme Court than the 10 federal appeals court nominees who have been filibustered.

“Where this is headed is in the direction of 41 members of the Senate being able to dictate to any president who may be on the Supreme Court or a circuit court,” he said. “That is a bad idea.”

In the midst of the talk about compromise, Mr. Reid’s press office issued a release criticizing California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, who was nominated to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia nearly two years ago.

Mr. Reid pointed to Justice Brown’s comments during a speech Sunday in Darien, Conn. According to an account of the speech in the Stamford Advocate, Justice Brown said that although tolerance toward others is positive, multiculturalism has turned against any religion with an absolute sense of right and wrong.

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