WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats blocked three more of President Bush's (search) judicial nominees Thursday in a series of votes forced by Republicans even though they knew they would lose.
Through procedural votes, the Senate refused to consider three Michigan jurists Bush wanted to put on the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (search). Republicans needed 60 votes to advance the nominees but could not come up with more than 54 on behalf of any of them.
President Bush called the action an "obstructionist tactic."
"The Senate minority's unfair treatment of these nominees demonstrates the breakdown in the judicial confirmation process," Bush said in a statement issued Thursday evening in Illinois where the president was traveling.
"I again urge the Senate — Republicans and Democrats alike — to put an end to the partisan politics of the past and ensure judicial nominees are given the timely up-or-down votes they deserve."
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Republican leaders' decision to hold votes they knew they could not win is a political move intended to rally conservatives and hurt Democrats in the November election.
The Senate voted 52-46 to proceed with a vote on Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Henry Saad's (search) nomination, 54-44 on Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Richard Griffin (search) and 53-44 on promoting U.S. District Court Judge David McKeague (search).
The three votes raised to 10 the number of Bush judicial nominees that Democrats have successfully blocked with filibusters.
Stabenow and Michigan's other Democratic senator, Carl Levin, led the filibusters against Saad, Griffin and McKeague. The Democrats acknowledged the filibusters were payback for the Republicans' refusal to hold hearings on two of former President Clinton's judicial nominees from Michigan.
"That is not an acceptable tactic. It should not be allowed to succeed," Levin said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chastised filibustering Democrats and said votes on confirming the three nominees should continue.
"The two senators from Michigan have been very upset and if I'd put myself in their shoes I'd feel the same way," Hatch said. "I will continue to work to try to resolve the problems with the Michigan senators, but these people deserve up-or-down votes."
Bush nominated Saad and McKeague to the 6th Circuit court in 2001 and Griffin a year later. Hatch delayed a committee vote on Saad for nearly a year while he negotiated with Michigan's senators.
The 6th Circuit court hears cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. It has four vacant seats that traditionally have been filled by Michigan candidates.