GOP Plans Push on Bush Court Nominations

Article excerpt

Byline: Charles Hurt, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Senate Republicans plan a blitz to confirm President Bush's stalled judicial nominations soon after returning from break next week.

Though their first priority will be passing Mr. Bush's $87 billion request for occupying and rebuilding Iraq, top Republicans said the blocked judges will be next on the agenda. Their plans include forcing around-the-clock debate on filibustered nominees, introducing a change in Senate rules that would bar filibusters against judicial nominees and creating a "judges week," during which all other legislative issues would be pushed aside to make way for debate on the nominees.

Four judicial nominees are stalled by filibusters on the Senate floor or otherwise blocked from reaching the floor. Three more nominees are awaiting action by the Senate Judiciary Committee and appear headed toward a similar fate. In total, Democrats and Republicans say the number of filibustered nominees could reach seven before year's end.

"It will be a top priority when they get back," said Manuel Miranda, who handles judicial nominations for Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican. "We will get to it at the earliest possible moment."

Republicans renewed their effort after the first filibustered nominee, Washington lawyer Miguel Estrada, withdrew his name from consideration to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals after waiting more than two years for confirmation.

Still filibustered by a bloc of 45 Democrats are Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, nominated to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor, nominated to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Two more nominees - California Judge Carolyn Kuhl, nominated to the 9th U. …