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Saturday, May 14, 2005
The GOP 7 and the Looming Judicial Fight
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 1:19 pm

As we approach the fight over procedure in the Senate, the AP reminds us where to look for excitement within the GOP: 7 GOP Senators Key in Filibuster Fight

Seven Republican senators will determine the outcome of a showdown this week between the president and Congress–and a minority within it–over who is going to shape the federal courts.

Barring any unforeseen developments, these are the lawmakers in the make-or-break position when it comes to deciding whether to allow a Senate minority to block a president’s nominees for the federal bench.

From top left, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Rep. John Sununu, R-N.H., Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; from bottom left: Sen. John Warner, R-Va., Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio. (Source: AP Photos/Files)

My guess is that Frist has lost Collins and Snowe for sure. In regards to Murkowski, I am betting Stevens can influence her to go with Frist and Spectre owes the White House for helping him in the primary. On a gut reaction I say Sununu goes with Frist, as does Warner. Dewine I don’t know enough about. Hagel is an interesting case, insofar as he seems to be looking to run for the GOP nomination in 2008–as such I am not sure he can afford to break this deal, although my bet is that he would prefer to vote against.

Not included here is McCain, whom I thought was oppossed.

Some quotes of interest:

“I tend to be a traditionalist, and the right of unlimited debate has been a hallmark of the Senate since its inception,” Warner said. “Without question, though, I am strongly opposed to the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominations.”


“I’ve decided. I just haven’t announced it yet because I think that it’s a good chance that we can get it worked out,” DeWine said. “I’m hopeful that by not announcing it, I can help keep these negotiations going.”

And, according to the LAT, the fight is coming this week: Jurists Picked for Showdown on Filibuster

California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown and a Texas judge were named Friday as the federal judicial nominees who will be considered by the Senate next week, a move expected to trigger a long-awaited showdown with Democrats.

The announcement Friday by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) propels Brown and Priscilla R. Owen, a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, to center stage of a political brawl that has gripped the Senate for weeks–over use of the filibuster against a president’s picks for federal judgeships.

Interesting, and perhaps odd, choices by Frist, as these are perhaps the two most controversial nominees.

Notes the NYT:Senate Republicans to Open Filibuster War Next Week

Removing any doubt about his intentions, the Senate majority leader said Friday that he would try next week to advance the nominations of two judicial candidates opposed by Democrats and, should the Democrats block a vote, demand a change in Senate rules to prevent filibusters against the nominees.

“It is time for 100 senators to decide the issue of fair up or down votes for judicial nominees after over two years of unprecedented obstructionism,” said a statement issued by the office of the majority leader, Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee.

The statement set the stage for what is expected to be an intricate dance of procedure and politics focusing on two State Supreme Court justices, Priscilla R. Owen of Texas and Janice Rogers Brown of California. Senate votes on their nominations to federal appeals courts have been prevented by Democrats, who say they have compiled disqualifying records of conservative judicial activism.

Senior aides to Dr. Frist said that they expected the debate to open on Wednesday and that it could stretch for days. They predicted that the fight would be over before Memorial Day.

WaPo rightly calls all of this “brinksmanship”–it strikes me that since it is unclear that Frist has the votes, that he is trying to force the Democrats’ hand on a favorable compromise: Frist to Begin Floor Debate on Judges Next Week

Despite the brinkmanship, Frist and Senate Democratic leader Harry M. Reid of Nevada are considering different ways to resolve the fate of all seven of the current nominees who had previously been blocked by filibuster. One potential agreement would guarantee that two of the nominees would be confirmed and the other five would be granted votes with no assurance of the outcome. The handling of the other five nominees remains the main sticking point between the GOP and Democratic leaders.


  1. Is that the same John sununu who was a former executive branch official under reagan/bush1 (?) He looks a lot thinner in that photo.

    Comment by bryan — Saturday, May 14, 2005 @ 3:40 pm

  2. Jurists Picked
    It should be an interesting week

    Trackback by Don Singleton — Saturday, May 14, 2005 @ 4:10 pm

  3. Does The GOP Have The Votes For The Nuclear Option Against Judicial Filibusters?
    NO Day — Nuclear Option Day — is almost upon the U.S. Senate.

    And now the question becomes: does the GOP have the votes to ban the filibuster for judicial …

    Trackback by The Moderate Voice — Saturday, May 14, 2005 @ 6:54 pm

  4. Does The GOP Have The Votes For The Nuclear Option Against Judicial Filibusters?
    NO Day — Nuclear Option Day — is almost upon the U.S. Senate.

    And now the question becomes: does the GOP have the votes to ban the filibuster for judicial …

    Trackback by The Moderate Voice — Saturday, May 14, 2005 @ 6:54 pm

  5. This will be fascinating. On the GOP side, I figure Snowe, Chafee, McCain and Collins against, with Hagel, Warner and Smith truly on the fence. (I think DeWine, Murkowski & Specter are too tied up in the leadership and that Sununu is trying to avoid trouble in his increasingly blue state.

    Those three on the fence however are fascinating cases: Smith’s vote for may very well cost him reelection in a blue state; Hagel would love to run for President in 08, but can’t if he votes against the Nuclear Option; and Warner, I believe truly loves the Senate and realizes what this may do to the institution. My guess is that if the deciding vote is Warner’s the Nuclear Option loses.

    Comment by SoloD — Saturday, May 14, 2005 @ 9:35 pm

  6. Bryan,

    The Sununu you are thinking of is the Senator’s father. Also, I am rather surprised Voinovich is not mentioned. I would not be surprised at all if h voted against the rule change. And he seems to be the “maverick” of the week in the press’s mind.

    Comment by Mark — Sunday, May 15, 2005 @ 9:51 am

  7. Don’t know if Snowe is as certain as you think. BRAC slammed Maine for 7000 jobs and, very possibly, one of those jobs will be Snowe’s.

    Is it possible that she might now suddenly “find” a reason not to split away from the party on judicial nominees? Sure will be hard for Frist to prioritize her BRAC complaints ahead of all the othe Republican Senators who will also be complaining.

    Comment by Terry — Sunday, May 15, 2005 @ 11:58 am

  8. Add, “if she does split off on judicial nominees” to the end of that last sentence.

    Comment by Terry — Sunday, May 15, 2005 @ 12:02 pm

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