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Filibuster of Pryor continues; panel forwards Brown for vote

WASHINGTON (BP)–Senate Republicans again failed Nov. 6 to halt a filibuster of an appellate judicial nominee, this time of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee forwarded on the same day the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown on a party-line vote, indicating she probably will be another filibuster target.

The GOP members sought for a second time to invoke cloture and bring Pryor to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote, but they garnered only 51 of the 60 votes needed to succeed. The vote was 51-43, with all opposition votes by Democrats. Two Democrats — Sens. Zell Miller of Georgia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska — voted for cloture with the 49 Republicans who took part.

President Bush nominated Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in April. Like three other Bush nominees, Senate Democrats filibustered Pryor’s nomination to block a confirmation vote and defeated a cloture vote in July. The 11th Circuit consists of Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

In July, the president nominated Brown to the District of Columbia Circuit Court. Brown is an associate justice of the California Supreme Court.

The Judiciary Committee voted 10-9, with Republicans in the majority, for Brown’s nomination.

If Brown’s nomination is filibustered, she will join four other appellate nominees who have been prevented from receiving a confirmation vote. In addition to Pryor, the others are Miguel Estrada, a nominee to the D.C. Circuit, and Priscilla Owen and Charles Pickering, both nominees to the Fifth Circuit. Estrada withdrew his name in September after more than two years of waiting for a vote.

Abortion-rights organizations have led the campaigns against these nominees, with assistance from civil-rights and church-state organizations in some cases.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has said the Democratic minority “is attempting to impose an unconstitutional requirement for the confirmation of President Bush’s judicial nominees. The Constitution requires a majority of the Senate for confirmation and is quite specific when a super-majority is required. The attempt to impose a new 60-vote requirement for judicial nominees is unprecedented in the two centuries of our nation’s history and is outrageous and unconstitutional obstructionism.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Miller have coauthored a bill, S.R. 138, that would require only a majority to end a filibuster.

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