WASHINGTON – The Senate on Wednesday confirmed California judge Janice Rogers Brown for the federal appeals court, ending a two-year battle filled with accusations of racism and sexism and shadowed by a dispute over Democratic blocking tactics.
Senators quickly followed by ending another long-term filibuster, clearing the way for a vote today on former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor as outlined in an agreement last month that averted a showdown that could have brought Senate action to a halt.
After giving Pryor a final vote and confirming two Michigan nominees to other appeals court posts, senators plan to leave President Bush’s other controversial nominees dangling, moving on to other matters after devoting a month to historic but exhausting debate over judges.
President Bush commended the Senate for voting to confirm Brown. “During her tenure on the California Supreme Court and California Court of Appeal, Justice Brown has distinguished herself as a brilliant and fair-minded jurist who is committed to the rule of law,” Bush said in a statement.
The Senate voted 56-43 to confirm Brown to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and 67-32 to end the filibuster of Pryor’s nomination to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – the last of three nominees Democrats agreed to clear in exchange for Republicans not banning judicial filibusters. The Senate today is expected to confirm Michigan nominees David McKeague and Richard Griffin, nominated to the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati, said Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
While those two weren’t part of the deal to avoid a fight over judicial filibusters, Democrats withdrew their objections to their confirmation during the back-and-forth negotiations.
By clearing the filibusters of Brown, Pryor and the now-confirmed U.S. Appeals Court Judge Priscilla Owen, the Senate has taken care of the first part of the Senate agreement.
Seven Democrats and seven Republicans signed the pact last month pledging not to filibuster judicial nominees except in extraordinary cases. At the same time, they agreed to oppose attempts by GOP leaders to change filibuster procedures.
Part of the accord was to end filibusters of Owen, Brown and Pryor, virtually guaranteeing their confirmation.
The Senate is anxious to move on to considering energy legislation and spending bills instead of taking up Bush’s other appellate nominees including Henry Saad, William Myers, William Haynes and Brett Kavanaugh.
Those nominees were not guaranteed confirmation votes in the centrist agreement, and Democrats are expected to try to block all of them.