Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

12/09/2004

Score One for Obstructionism

Last year President Bush placed Charles Pickering on the Fifth Circuit Court through recess appointment. The reason? Pickering's nomination was filibustered for over 3 years even though he clearly would have won a vote before the full Senate. Yesterday, Pickering chose to retire rather than be subjected, once again, to filibuster. His experience is illustrative of how the judicial confirmation process is driving gifted jurists away from the federal bench. Judicial filibusters -- and Senator Dayton's role in sustaining them -- will be an huge issue in the 2006 election.

Excerpts from Pickering's statement:

My nomination and permanent appointment to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has been pending before the full Senate for more than one year. The recess appointment given to me by President Bush on January 16, 2004 expires when Congress adjourns. Opposition by some Democratic senators prevented an up or down vote on my nomination. A minority of senators prevented the majority from confirming me to a permanent position on the Fifth Circuit. The actions of the minority leave me with no alternative than to retire as Congress adjourns.

My confirmation struggle lasted four years. Although I would prefer confirmation, I am in good spirits and at peace with the result. My faith is strong. I will continue to be involved in community and civic affairs. I will also speak out on issues relating to confirmation reform. I feel I can be a constructive voice in this vitally important debate.

The bitter fight over judicial confirmations threatens the quality and the independence of the judiciary. The mean-spiritedness and lack of civility reduces the pool of nominees willing to offer themselves for service on the bench. For the first time in the history of the Senate, judicial nominations were blocked by filibusters.

The recent election demonstrated that the American people rejected this unprecedented obstruction by the minority Senate leadership. Those voices will continue to be heard until the confirmation process is reformed and judicial filibusters ended.

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