President Bush (search) on Monday sent the Senate 20 judicial nominees, including several who were blocked in his first term, signaling a new fight with Democrats.
"Every judicial nominee deserves a prompt hearing and an up-or-down vote on the floor of the United States Senate," Bush said at the swearing in of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (search).
The Democrats' ability to stall White House picks for the federal bench was one of the most contentious issues of Bush's first term. With a Senate comprises 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and a Democrat-leaning independent, Democrats still have the 40 votes necessary to uphold a filibuster (search).
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has threatened to try to change Senate rules to force confirmation votes if Democrats carry out their filibuster threats.
"We need to restore the tradition of giving advice and consent, and that means having a nominee coming from the president to us with majority support be allowed a vote, an up-or-down vote — vote against, vote for, but allowed a vote," he said on FOX News Sunday.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., called Bush's renominations regrettable.
"The president looks like he is still more interested in picking fights than picking judges," Kennedy said. "The last thing the federal courts need is reactionary judges bent on rolling back basic constitutional rights."
Bush sent back 12 nominees for the U.S. Courts of Appeals. They are:
—4th Circuit: Terrence W. Boyle and William James Haynes II.
—5th Circuit: Priscilla Richman Owen.
—6th Circuit: David W. McKeague, Susan Bieke Neilson, Henry W. Saad, and Richard A. Griffin;
—9th Circuit: William Gerry Myers III.
—11th Circuit: William H. Pryor, who received a recess appointment from Bush after Democrats blocked his nomination. That appointment expires at the end of this year.
—District of Columbia Circuit: Janice Rogers Brown, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Thomas B. Griffith.
Bush also renominated eight people to less controversial U.S. District Court positions. Listed by state, they are:
—J. Michael Seabright, Hawaii.
—Sean F. Cox, Thomas L. Ludington and Daniel P. Ryan, Eastern District, Michigan.
—Peter G. Sheridan, New Jersey.
—Paul A. Crotty, Southern District, New York.
—James C. Dever III, Eastern District, North Carolina.
—Robert J. Conrad, Western District, North Carolina.
Frist said the nominations would go back through the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was not immediately known when the first vote would be.