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Senate OKs appellate nominee; Estrada filibuster continues

WASHINGTON (BP)–Senate Democrats once again have turned back an attempt to hold a confirmation vote on federal appeals court nominee Miguel Estrada but were unsuccessful in blocking another appellate selection.

The Senate voted 66-25 to confirm Deborah Cook to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats were unable to build enough opposition to derail Cook’s nomination, though she was endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life Political Action Committee in her 2000 re-election to the state’s Supreme Court.

On the same day, however, Democrats stymied a floor vote on Estrada for the fifth time. Estrada’s supporters again were unable to gain the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture, which would have ended the Democrats’ filibuster. The cloture vote was 52-39, eight votes short.

The May 5 vote on Estrada came four days after an unsuccessful attempt to end the filibuster of a second appeals court nominee. The Senate had voted 52-44 in its first attempt to invoke cloture on the nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen.

Abortion-rights organizations have led the fight against several of President Bush’s nominees. In filibustering Estrada’s nomination, Democrats have called for him to be more forthcoming with his views on specific issues, including the right to abortion granted by the Supreme Court in the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Owen’s opponents have focused their attacks on her opinions regarding a Texas law requiring parental notification for a minor before she may obtain an abortion. The 1999 law mandating parental notification contained a provision enabling a judge to grant an exception if he deems the underage girl mature and well-informed. In a majority of cases, Owen opposed a judicial bypass for minors requesting one.

The Sixth Circuit, where Cook will serve, consists of the states of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. She was first elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in 1994.

The Fifth Circuit, to which Owen has been nominated, consists of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Estrada is a nominee to the District of Columbia Circuit Court.

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