- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2008

Democrats have moved at a slower pace to confirm President Bush’s nominees to federal appeals courts than did Republicans during the end of President Clinton’s presidency, records show.

The Senate has confirmed 295 of Mr. Bush’s judicial nominees — 44 fewer than it had for President Clinton at this same point in his presidency, when 339 had been confirmed.

Mr. Bush and Democratic leaders in the Senate yesterday blamed each other for the delays.

The president said that Democrats are treating nominees as “judicial pawns” and that the Senate is “not fulfilling its duty.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said Mr. Bush’s “stubbornness” was to blame for “slowing down our government.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said yesterday that Democrats have confirmed Bush nominees at a faster pace than Republicans did when they controlled Congress.

During the three years that Democrats controlled Congress, Mr. Leahy said, 140 of Mr. Bush’s judicial nominees were confirmed, compared with the 158 confirmed during the four years of Republican control.

“The argument that the Senate slow-walked the president’s judicial nominations is just wrong,” Mr. Leahy said.

Records show that Mr. Leahy’s committee has held hearings for federal appeals court nominees at a much slower pace than did a Republican-controlled committee during Mr. Clinton’s last two years in office.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, held hearings for 15 appeals court nominees during 1999 and 2000, and 13 were confirmed, according to records kept by Senate staff.

Mr. Leahy has held hearings for four such nominees, all of whom were confirmed. He added that Republican obstruction left Mr. Clinton with 80 unfilled judgeships at the end of his presidency.

Mr. Reid promised some obstructionism earlier this week when he said, “As we near [the end] of any administration … some nominations simply won’t be approved.” He added that this was “certainly true at the end of the Clinton administration.”

Mr. Bush yesterday used the occasion of a conservative gathering in Washington to call for an “up-or-down vote” for each nominee.

“If the senators holding up this process believe my nominees are unworthy for confirmation, the course of action is clear: Hold a vote and see if the majority agree,” Mr. Bush said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The president said that “the confirmation process has turned into a never-ending political game, where everyone loses.”

“With more than a 180 of my nominees waiting for the confirmation process in the Senate, it is clear that the process is not working,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Leahy called the president’s remarks “tired political rhetoric.”

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