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On the block

Issue: "Senate wars over judges," May 14, 2005

Janice Rogers Brown, Richard Griffin, David McKeague, William G. Myers, Priscilla Owen, William Pryor, and Henry Saad all have something in common. As potential federal judges, they are so unpopular among Senate Democrats that the party has orchestrated an unprecedented filibuster against them.

Christian organizations like the Family Research Council have rallied behind the nominees, charging Democrats with boycotting judges who have shown an allegiance to faith.

"Judicial philosophy is being divined by key Democrats based on the nominees' belief system or faith," FRC President Tony Perkins says.

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However, President Bush said he believed his nominees were being filibustered because of their "judicial philosophy," not their religious beliefs. Only Ms. Brown, Ms. Owen, and Mr. Pryor's professions of faith are well-known, but almost every blocked nominee is said to employ a strict interpretation of the Constitution. Democrats, who seem more comfortable interpreting the Constitution as a malleable document, may fear the nominees could become Antonin Scalia protégés.

Janice Rogers Brown, for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Renominated this year and recently approved by the Judiciary Committee, she awaits full approval of the Senate.

Controversy: Liberal activist Nan Aron called Mrs. Rogers Brown a strict constructionist. The California Supreme Court justice sided with property owners in disputes against local governments, drawing the ire of national liberals. During a 1999 conference at Pepperdine University, she gave a speech titled "Beyond the Abyss: Restoring Religion on the Public Square," urging believers to exercise their free-speech rights and become a vocal part of American society.

Richard Griffin, for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Renominated and stuck in the Judiciary Committee.

Controversy: As a judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals, Mr. Griffin made enemies by holding a tough line on labor law, ruling union workers on strike couldn't collect unemployment benefits so long as they could cross the picket line and go back to work.

David McKeague, for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Renominated and stuck in the Judiciary Committee.

Controversy: The U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Michigan ruled in favor of Vanguard Charter Academy when a parent brought a separation of church and state suit against the school.

William G. Myers III, for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Judiciary Committee approved Mr. Myers and he now awaits a Senate vote.

Controversy: Democrats dislike that Mr. Myers supported property rights while serving as solicitor of the Department of the Interior during some of President Bush's first term. The liberal advocacy group, People For the American Way, decried Mr. Myers's narrow interpretation of the Constitution's commerce clause-a viewpoint that challenges liberals' idea of an expansive government.

Priscilla Owen, for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Renominated and approved by the Judiciary Committee, she awaits full approval of the Senate.

Controversy: Ms. Owen is a pro-life advocate on the Texas Supreme Court. Democrats latched onto comments made by then-Supreme Court colleague and current U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who called Ms. Owen an activist for wanting to require parental notification in underage abortions. Mr. Gonzales disputes the comments and says he supports Ms. Owen.

William H. Pryor Jr., for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. President Bush gave him a temporary recess appointment and renominated him for a lifetime seat on the court. His nomination remains stalled in the Judiciary Committee.

Controversy: Mr. Pryor, a 43-year-old self-described strict constructionist and Catholic, is critiqued for his firm opposition to abortion and for not being able to separate legal and religious issues.

Henry Saad, for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Renominated and stuck in the Judiciary Committee. An Arab-American Catholic, Mr. Saad is opposed by Michigan's two Democratic senators, though they haven't outlined the nature of their opposition. Mr. Saad, who serves on the Michigan Court of Appeals, is known as a strict interpreter of law.
-John Dawson

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