- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The White House yesterday resubmitted six contentious judicial nominees to the Senate in what Republicans said was a signal President Bush will fight over judges even under Democratic control, and Democrats said proves the president already has forsaken bipartisanship.

In addition to the six resubmissions — needed because the nominees had been automatically returned to the White House during the October recess — Mr. Bush also sent over four new nominees.

The White House said the nominations are “a logical step” meant to keep the confirmation process on track.

“These renominations simply restore the nominees to the position they were in prior to the [October] recess, when the nominees were pending in the Senate and awaiting fair consideration of an up-or-down vote,” said Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman.

But several of those nominees would have a difficult time gaining a majority vote, and with little time left in this year’s session and with Democrats about to take control next year, nothing is likely to happen.

“There is zero, zip, zilch chance of any of these judges making it through the Senate killing fields in the waning days,” said one Republican aide, who has watched the nominees situation but asked not to be identified. “Without a plan for successful confirmation from the White House, the only point is to fly the flag as the judicial-confirmation ship slips beneath the waves. Burble, gurgle.”

All nominees expire at the end of this year, and Democrats said with so little time left, Mr. Bush’s move proves he is playing a partisan game rather than trying to work with them.

“Democrats have asked the president to be bipartisan, but this is a clear slap in the face at our request,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and a point man for his party on judicial nominees.

But Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative group that advocates for judges, said Democrats forced the issue by denying Mr. Bush the usual courtesy of carrying the judges over the recess. That is why Mr. Bush had to resubmit the six contentious ones yesterday.

“It’s a bullying tactic to try to paint the president into backing off from these nominees,” he said.

The six resubmissions are Terrence W. Boyle and William James Haynes II to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Peter D. Keisler to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, William Gerry Myers III and Norman Randy Smith to the 9th Circuit and Michael Brunson Wallace to the 5th Circuit.

The new nominees are James Edward Rogan to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Benjamin Hale Settle to the District Court for the Western District of Washington and Margaret A. Ryan and Scott Wallace Stucky to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

It is a curious end to a year that began with the confirmation of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. But since then, confirmations have dropped off. One key senator earlier this year blamed the White House for not sending up new nominees fast enough, though Mr. Rushton said the Senate leadership failed to push the pending nominees.

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