- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

The Senate approved California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown yesterday nearly two years after President Bush nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The 56-43 vote makes Justice Brown the second nominee to be freed from a Democratic filibuster under last month’s deal brokered among seven Democrats and seven Republicans.

Justice Brown, viewed as a contender for the Supreme Court, will sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the second-highest court in the land and considered a proving ground for future Supreme Court justices.

“Today, principle has won a victory over partisan judicial obstruction,” Majority Leader Bill Frist said. “After almost two years, the Senate has finally given Janice Rogers Brown the respect and the up-or-down vote that she deserves.”

Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, joined all Republicans in voting to confirm Justice Brown. She was supported by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, who has voted against a handful of other Bush judicial nominees.

Sen. James M. Jeffords, Vermont independent, did not vote.

During yesterday’s vote, House members of the Congressional Black Caucus gathered at the back of the Senate chamber to watch Justice Brown — who made history as the first black woman to serve on the California Supreme Court — be confirmed.

But they weren’t there to lend support. The caucus opposes elevating Justice Brown because its members — all Democrats — view her as too conservative.

Last month’s deal already paved the way for the confirmation last month of Judge Priscilla R. Owen, who now sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The deal also guarantees a vote for former Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor, whose filibuster was broken last night on an 67-32 vote. He will get a final confirmation vote today, more than two years after Mr. Bush first nominated him.

Democrats attacked Justice Brown for speeches in which she talked about what she regards as the dangerous and expansive nature of government. She has argued that government weakens family bonds and encroaches into all aspects of life if not kept in check.

“The D.C. Circuit is too important to the nation for the Senate to weaken it by putting such a loose cannon on its bench,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

Mr. Kennedy irked some conservatives when he lamented that the Senate has spent so much time lately debating judges.

“If it weren’t for Kennedy, the Democrats might never have adopted the reckless judicial filibuster strategy in 2003,” said Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, a group that supports Mr. Bush’s nominees. “Responsibility for time consumed this week on what properly should have occurred years ago belongs to none more than Kennedy himself.”

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