WASHINGTON – The Senate (search) on Monday confirmed the first of President Bush's second-term judicial nominees as senators continued to argue over Democrats blocking the White House's most wanted candidates.
Senators on a 95-0 vote confirmed Paul Crotty (search) as a U.S. District judge for New York state. With Crotty's confirmation, Bush has put 205 trial and appellate judges on the federal court since becoming president.
"It is my hope that we will be able to move other nominees to the Senate floor for confirmation," said Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter (search), R-Pa.
Democrats have blocked 10 of Bush's 52 appeals court nominations through filibuster threats, while allowing Republicans to confirm 34 others.
They have said they plan to keep blocking those 10 if they are brought up for confirmation again. In return, the GOP has threatened to change the Senate rules to ban filibusters of judicial nominees.
The Republican plan has been dubbed the "nuclear option" because some say it would blow up Senate relations. Some supporters call it the "constitutional option" because they say forcing confirmation votes will return the Senate to its constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on judicial nominees.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada has said he will slow down or stop Senate business through procedural maneuvers if Republicans are successful.
Reid and top Judiciary Committee Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont called on Bush on Monday to oppose attempts to ban judicial filibusters, saying Crotty's confirmation shows that consensus nominees would be approved.
"We therefore urge you to make clear to Senate Republican leaders that you do not favor the so-called 'nuclear option,' which would remove an important check on executive power," they said in a letter to the White House. "Instead, let us work together to identify consensus judicial candidates."