Bush Puts Blame on Senate for Artificial Judicial Vacancies He Created

President continues to play politics with nominations, ignoring advice and consent of Senate


Glenn Sugameli, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500 

At a meeting with pending nominees, President Bush will try to blame the Senate for failing to vote for 100% of his selections, including controversial nominees to lifetime judgeships in our independent third branch of government. The following statement is from Glenn Sugameli, Senior Legislative Counsel and head of Earthjustice’s judicial nominations project, Judging the Environment.

“If President Bush wants to find the one responsible for judicial vacancies, he should look in the mirror. In order to inflame his right wing base, he created artificial vacancies by choosing pending nominees because they will not be confirmed. He refuses to even discuss suggestions of confirmable, mainstream nominees from Republican and Democratic Senators who take their constitutional ‘advise and consent’ role seriously.

“For example, Senators John Warner (R-VA) and Jim Webb (D-VA) interviewed many candidates for two Virginia 4th Circuit vacancies and jointly recommended a Bush district court judge and four others. Bush instead guaranteed the vacancy would remain open by nominating E. Duncan Getchell, whom the Senators had rejected. Getchell recently withdrew his nomination.

Steve A. Matthews, another Bush nominee for the 4th Circuit, was an officer and director of Landmark Legal Foundation, which tried to nominate Rush Limbaugh for a Nobel Peace Prize. Landmark is headed by Mark R. Levin, who called global warming ‘nonsense’ and ‘phony,’ and condemned Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CN) as ‘liberal idiots.’

Robert J. Conrad Jr. a Bush nominee for the 4th Circuit wrote an ‘inflammatory’ Catholic Dossier letter denouncing Sister Helen Prejean as a ‘church-hating nun’ and insisting that he ‘found only liberal drivel’ in her classic book Dead Man Walking. Sitting by designation, he joined a notorious 4th Circuit decision that allowed streams to be buried with mine waste. Three (of eight) circuit judges voted for rehearing because the decision ‘eviscerates‘ key Clean Water Act language and undermines its protective purpose.

“Repeatedly, President Bush has made the judicial nomination process an exercise in futility by nominating extreme individuals to lifetime federal judgeships. If the President wants to fill vacancies, he should withdraw his controversial nominees and start heeding the advice of the Senate to put in place confirmable, reasonable judges.” 

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