Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/29/2004 04:12 PM Senate STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
          SJR 33-CONGRESSIONAL VOTE ON JUDICIAL NOMINATION                                                                  
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS announced SJR 33  to be up for  consideration and                                                           
there was a committee substitute (CS).                                                                                          
SENATOR JOHN  COWDERY motioned to  adopt CS  for SJR 33,  version \D.                                                           
There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
BRIAN  HOVE,  staff  to  Senator  Ralph  Seekins,  read  the  sponsor                                                           
statement into the record.                                                                                                      
     SJR 33 respectfully  requests the U.S. Senate  move forward                                                                
     with President Bush's judicial nominations.                                                                                
     Our  U.S.  Constitution  provides the  President  with  the                                                                
     power  to   nominate  qualified   candidates  for   federal                                                                
     judicial  positions with  the consent of  the Senate.  But,                                                                
     many  of  these  nominations are  currently  being  blocked                                                                
     through  parliamentary  delay  tactics  carried  out  by  a                                                                
     minority of  senators. This  has created  needless hardship                                                                
     within the judiciary branch of our government.                                                                             
     In fact,  the Administrative  Office of  the United  States                                                                
     Courts   has   classified   22   judgeships   as   judicial                                                                
     emergencies.   Many  of  President   Bush's  nominees   are                                                                
     intended to  fill these seats.  Furthermore, a  majority of                                                                
     the  United States  Senate  stands ready  to approve  these                                                                
     individuals. Nevertheless,  they, and the  judiciary branch                                                                
     they are to serve, remain mired in political limbo.                                                                        
     SJR 33  requests the  U.S. Senate  move forward  with these                                                                
     nominations thus  allowing the judicial branch  to function                                                                
     as the Constitution intended.                                                                                              
MR. HOVE  reported that  the \D  version simply  provides number  and                                                           
percentage updates of as of 4/27/04. Everything else is the same.                                                               
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS  pointed to page 1, line 16  and remarked that                                                           
her  research  indicates that  three  of  the six  judicial  nominees                                                           
referred to have neither partisan nor bipartisan support.                                                                       
MR. HOVE said that the resolution is  simply asking for a vote on the                                                           
SENATOR GUESS  stated for the record  that, "It's my opinion  that at                                                           
least  on three  of  the nominations  there's not  51,  let alone  60                                                           
[votes] of support."                                                                                                            
There  are rules  and there  are rules  for a  reason, she said.  The                                                           
system works when  people know and play by the  rules. Not everything                                                           
gets  to  the  floor  and not  everything  gets  to  committee.  It's                                                           
bothersome, however,  when state time  is spent to pass  a resolution                                                           
that is  partisan in nature. It's  curious that the general  theme of                                                           
blocked nominations  isn't addressed.  The resolution speaks  to just                                                           
the current administration.                                                                                                     
In conclusion she  said, "I just don't think it's  good for this body                                                           
to be doing  things like this. If  we want to put  something together                                                           
that shows a problem  and you're going to show one  side or the other                                                           
then that's fine, but  this doesn't. ... I think it's  for show and I                                                           
don't think it helps the body at all."                                                                                          
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS said he understood  her concern and asked  if she                                                           
would be more comfortable with changes in the wording.                                                                          
SENATOR GUESS said  she would like to go back  to President Clinton's                                                           
era  and  show  what  happened and  then  show  what's  happening  to                                                           
President  Bush's  nominations  because  the  pattern  is  the  same.                                                           
Although she  offered to work with  the sponsor to make  changes, she                                                           
respects his desire to make no changes.                                                                                         
CHAIR GARY STEVENS  stated for the record that the  bill moves to the                                                           
Judiciary Committee next.                                                                                                       
There were no further questions.                                                                                                
SENATOR COWDERY  motioned to  report CSSJR  33(STA), \D  version from                                                           
committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note.                                                             
SENATOR GUESS objected.                                                                                                         
CHAIR GARY STEVENS called for a roll call vote.                                                                                 
CSSJR  33(STA),  \D  version   moved  from  committee  with  Senators                                                           
Cowdery,  Stedman, and  Chair  Gary Stevens  voting  yea and  Senator                                                           
Guess voting nay.                                                                                                               

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