WASHINGTON – Republicans say they will try for a third time to break a Democratic filibuster on a Texas Supreme Court justice picked by President Bush for the federal appeals court.
Senate Republican leaders announced Friday they plan to force a confirmation vote on Tuesday for Priscilla Owen (search), who has been nominated for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
This will be the third vote on Owen. The GOP failed to push her through on the first two votes in early May, garnering only 52 votes each time in the 100-member Senate.
It requires 60 votes to break a filibuster and move a nominee to confirmation. Republicans control the chamber by a two-vote margin, with 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one independent senator, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, who usually sides with the Democrats.
Democrats contended that Owen is an anti-abortion and pro-business judicial activist whose opinions and rulings are overly influenced by her personal beliefs. When they controlled the Senate in 2001, they voted her nomination down in committee on a party-line vote.
Owen and GOP senators say Democrats misrepresented her positions, and that she would be a fair and impartial judge if confirmed by the Senate.
"I do personally resent some of the accusations that have been made, some of the mischaracterizations that have been made, some of the things that have been done to besmirch some of these excellent people that the president of the United States has nominated," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (search), R-Utah.
Owen is likely to be just the first of several Bush judicial nominees Republicans will try to confirm before leaving for the August recess.
Democrats also are filibustering Washington appellate lawyer Miguel Estrada (search) for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
They are also expected to try and block Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor from a seat on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta; Mississippi judge Charles Pickering for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans; and California judge Carolyn Kuhl for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Senate leaders, including Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate's no. 2 Republican, said earlier this week that the Pryor and Kuhl confirmation could be attempted next week.
Republicans say Democrats are using unprecedented filibusters to block U.S. Appeals Court nominees who are conservative and anti-abortion.
Democrats defend their record, saying a large majority of Bush's nominees have been confirmed. By Tuesday, 140 of the White House's nominees will have been confirmed by the Senate, said Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate's no. 2 Democrat.
"Any reasonable person looking at these numbers would acknowledge that there's been no witch hunt by the Democrats," Reid said.