Comment On Consideration Of Judicial Nominations

“The continued attempt by Senate Republicans to make a partisan, election-year issue out of judicial nominations would be laughable if they were not tragically ignoring the real priorities of hardworking Americans.  Ironically, confirmation of judicial nominees is the one area where the numbers have actually improved during the Bush presidency.  Since the years in which Republicans pocket filibustered more than 60 of President Clinton’s moderate and qualified judicial nominees and judicial vacancies topped 100, we have cut judicial vacancies by more than half and we reduced circuit court vacancies by almost three-fourths, to 9 throughout the entire country from a high point of 32.  When the New York nominees on the Senate Executive Calendar are confirmed, Democrats will have led the Senate to the confirmation of the same number of judges 158 appointed by President Bush as Republicans did, but in a much shorter time.  

“As these judicial vacancies have fallen under President Bush, Americans have seen the unemployment rate rise to 5.5 percent and trillions of dollars in budget surplus have turned into trillions of dollars of debt.  The annual budget deficit is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  When President Bush took office, the price of gas was $1.42 a gallon.  Today, it is at an all-time high of over $4.10 a gallon.  The nation’s trade deficit widened eight percent in April alone due to the surging gas prices, and is now at its highest level in 13 months.  The housing crisis and mortgage crisis threatens the economy.

“Struggling Americans are less concerned about the numbers of nominees who have been honored with a nomination to a lifetime appointment than they are about these critical issues they face in their lives each day.  They are concerned about affording to heat their homes this winter.  They are concerned about gas prices that have skyrocketed so high they do not know how they will afford to drive to work.  They are concerned about the steepest decline in home values in two decades. More and more Americans are affected by rising unemployment, with job losses for the first six consecutive months of this year tallying over 438,000.  Americans are worried about soaring health care costs, rising health insurance costs, the rising costs of education and rising food prices.  The partisan, election-year rhetoric over judicial nominations, at a time when judicial vacancies have been significantly reduced, is a reflection of misplaced priorities.”

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