Bush to Install Judge, Bypassing Senate
By JEFFREY McMURRAY
The Associated Press
Friday, February 20, 2004; 3:08 PM
WASHINGTON - Bypassing Senate Democrats who have stalled his judicial nominations, President Bush will use a recess appointment to put Alabama Attorney General William Pryor on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at least temporarily, government sources said Friday.
The White House began informing senators Friday afternoon of Bush's intention, said one Senate source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Two White House officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Bush's plan to install Pryor, and said a paper announcement was likely Friday afternoon.
After senators were informed by the White House, Pryor went to the federal courthouse in Montgomery, where he was expected to be sworn in by U.S. Circuit Judge Ed Carnes in a private ceremony.
The recess appointment, which would last only until the end of 2005, would be the second by Bush to sidestep Democrats who have mounted successful filibusters against Pryor and five other appeals court nominees.
Last month, Bush used an identical appointment to promote Mississippi federal judge Charles Pickering to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Bush picked Pryor last April for a seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that covers Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Abortion rights advocates immediately mounted a campaign against him, citing Pryor's criticism of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision saying women had a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.
Republicans have been unsuccessful in five attempts, the last one in November, at breaking through the parliamentary blockade that Democrats erected against Pryor's nomination.
Pryor, 41, is a founder of the Republican Attorneys General Association, which raises money for GOP attorneys general. At his confirmation hearing, he said he had not lobbied tobacco companies or companies under investigation by his office, but Democrats said they had documents showing Pryor may have been involved in some fund-raising activities.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Bush of using a recess appointment to bolster himself with Republican conservatives before the fall election.
"Regularly circumventing the advise and consent process is not the way to change the tone in Washington," Schumer said.
But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the appointment was "a constituional response to an unconstitutional filibuster."
"I've always heard that when you have nothing else to say, you call people names," he said. "That's apparently what Democrats are now resorting to, just name calling. Bill Pryor is a very qualified, highly professional nominee who has a proven track record of enforcing the law, rather than his own personal agenda."
Besides Pickering and Pryor, Democrats also have used filibusters to block the Bush's appeals court nominations of Judge Priscilla Owen, Hispanic lawyer Miguel Estrada and judges Carolyn Kuhl and Janice Rogers Brown. Estrada withdrew his nomination in September.
© 2004 The Associated Press