Leahy defends Judicial Committee’s record

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says a plan proposed by President Bush to speed up the U.S. Senate’s confirmation process of federal judges is little more than a political ploy in the final days before Tuesday’s Election. The president says the Senate Judiciary Committee, a committee that Leahy chairs, has “a lousy record” on confirming nominees and that the panel has “poisoned and polarized” the entire process.

Under Bush’s plan, the full Senate would be required to vote on a judicial appointee within 180 days of their nomination.

Leahy rejects the plan. He says a third of all judicial vacancies are open because Bush has failed to nominate new judges. And Leahy argues that the judicial review process has been slowed down because the president has nominated too many right wing activist nominees:

(Leahy) “But then they’ve sent up some that were ideologically determined to change the courts. Not have the court be independent but to have the courts designed just to be available for one small strata of American society, and you can’t do that.”

(Host) Leahy says the Senate Judiciary Committee, under his leadership, has filled more judicial vacancies in the past 15 months than the Republican-controlled Senate did in the last two and a half years of the Clinton administration.

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