Recess appointments


Issue: "Year in Review 2004," Jan. 1, 2005

After years of waiting, President Bush decided enough was enough. With Senate Democrats refusing to consider a half dozen of his judicial nominees, Mr. Bush used controversial recess appointments to elevate Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and William Pryor to the 11th Circuit.

The back-to-back appointments in January and February left liberals steaming. For more than two years, they had accused Mr. Pickering of racism and Mr. Pryor of religious zealotry. Sen. Ted Kennedy said their temporary promotions were a "flagrant abuse of presidential power," and Minority Leader Tom Daschle threatened no more formal recesses unless Mr. Bush promised to halt such appointments.

Instead, the president campaigned hard against obstructionist Democrats, helping to elect four new Republicans to the Senate. While that's not enough to break a filibuster, Republicans hope that the chastened opposition-minus Mr. Daschle's leadership-will be less likely to bottle up nominations in the future. When the new Congress convenes in January, the first order of business likely will be a little job security for Mr. Pickering and Mr. Pryor.

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