National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters:A Letter to Senate Leadership

The Honorable William H. Frist, M.D. The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Rick Santorum The Honorable Jon Kyl The Honorable Elizabeth Dole The Honorable Arlen Specter United States Senate U.S. Capitol Washington, DC April 4, 2005 Dear Senators: As the representatives of millions of American voices, we write to ask you to end the judicial filibusters at the earliest possible moment and well before a Supreme Court vacancy should occur. We believe that short of a compromise that guarantees an up or down vote at the end of debate, the Constitutional Options available to you will serve to honor the Constitution, restore Senate tradition, and protect judicial independence. We believe that generations of Americans are called at moments to lay foundations for the future, and that this is one such moment. The independence of the judiciary was a core reason for our national birth. The threat to the judicial independence was high among the grievances that our Founding Fathers listed to King George III in the Declaration of Independence. The Framers firmly established an independent judiciary, but one subject to a written Constitution and the checks and balances of the other branches that it prescribes. In recent times, partisan special interests have threatened judicial independence again by inserting ideology into the Senate confirmation process of federal judges. Now the Minority has changed 215 years of Senate tradition by abusing the filibuster for the first time against nominees with clear majority support. The Senate must act as steward of the federal courts by returning the power to confirm judges to the Constitution’s simple majority requirement. While it is the right of the President to expect the Senate to give Advice and Consent within a reasonable period of time, it is the duty of every Senator to offer Advice and Consent through an honest, up or down vote. Moreover, the unprecedented abuse of the filibuster is a device intended to undermine the prerogatives of the Presidency as well as the tradition of the Senate. It must not stand. You must not waver. The President, this President, must have the freedom to nominate appellate judges and Supreme Court justices who will restore the courts to their constitutional role. We are convinced that the proof of history is overwhelming that the Constitutional Options are a conservative response that do not threaten but will restore Senate debate rules and tradition. As you know, the right of unlimited debate in the Senate ended in 1917 when President Wilson demanded that the Senate not filibuster matters of national security. The Senate adopted the “cloture” rule. The last amendment to that rule came in 1975 …quot; thirty years ago. For three decades, there has been a broad consensus supporting 60-vote threshold to end debate, at least for legislative filibusters. In 1995, nineteen (19) Democrat senators voted to end debate after three weeks with a 51 vote threshold. That proposal’s purpose was to limit the legislative filibuster. Senate Republicans were a new majority that year, but unanimously opposed the change. The Democratic leadership and a majority of Senate Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the proposal. . That failed vote in 1995 and the absence of any other amendment efforts for three decades is ample evidence of bipartisan agreement to preserve the legislative filibuster, demonstrating a two-century-old consensus. Clearly, however, the partisan abuse of the cloture rule in the last Congress to obstruct honest votes on judicial nominees has fractured the consensus as to filibusters on nominations. We understand that Article I of the Constitution allows the Senate to adopt rules for itself, but that right belongs to this Senate as much as it did to the first Senate. We call for a restoration of Senate traditions, returning to the majority vote on Advice and Consent the Constitution mandates. We ask you also to put partisan advantage aside. While there is no doubt that the Minority’s filibusters have helped Republicans win recent elections, we are certain that Republicans will do the right thing for themselves and the Nation by ending the partisan obstruction now. We call on the Senate Leadership and the Republican Majority to end the filibusters on appellate nominees and well before a Supreme Court vacancy occurs. Sincerely, C. Boyden Gray, Committee for Justice Kay R. Daly, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary Harvey Tettlebaum, Republican National Lawyers Association David A. Keene, American Conservative Union Gary L. Bauer, American Values Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform Paul Weyrich, Free Congress Foundation Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family James D. Daly, Focus on the Family Tony Perkins, Family Research Council James J. Fotis, Law Enforcement Alliance of America Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship Ministries Mark Earley, Prison Fellowship Ministries Connie Mackey, Family Research Council Lisa DePasquale, Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute L. Brent Bozell III, Conservative Victory Committee Dr. William A. Donohue, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights Jim Backlin, Christian Coalition of America Dr. Carl Herbster, AdvanceUSA Ray Ruddy, Gerard Health Foundation Kurt Entsminger, Care Net Dr. Virginia Armstrong, Eagle Forum’s Court Watch Duane Parde, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) Matt Kibbe, Freedom Works Peter A. Samuelson, Americans United for Life Clarke D. Forsythe, Esq. AUL’s Project on Law and Bioethics Richard Land, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Dr. Barrett Duke, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Dr. John C. Eastman, The Claremont Institute Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice James Bopp, Jr., James Madison Center for Free Speech Samuel B. Casey, Christian Legal Society Kelly Shackelford. Liberty Legal Institute Mathew D. Staver, Liberty Counsel Alan E. Sears, Alliance Defense Fund Roy Innis, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Niger Innis, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Lanier Swann, Concerned Women for America Dr. Keith Wiebe, American Association of Christian Schools Jeffrey Mazzella, Center for Individual Freedom Brian McCabe, Progress for America Phyllis Berry Myers, New Black Leadership Coalition Nancie Marzulla, Defenders of Property Rights Kevin W. Blier, Center for American Cultural Renewal Steven Mosher, Population Research Institute Ken Connor, Center for a Just Society Rick Scarborough, Vision America Michael Valerio, Vision America Gary Marx, Judicial Confirmation Network Ron Robinson, Young America’s Foundation Michael Howden, Stronger Families Manuel Lujan, Jr., Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute James L. Martin, 60 Plus Association Penny Nance, Kids First Coalition Charles W. Jarvis, USA Next (United Seniors Association) Dr. D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Ministries Dr. Gary Cass, Center for Reclaiming America Mark Sutherland, Joyce Meyer Ministries Dr. S. Dale Burroughs, Biblical Heritage Institute Mike Snyder, The Wilberforce Forum Bishop Keith Butler Pastor Rod Parsley, Center for Moral Clarity Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition Andrea Lafferty, Traditional Values Coalition Jeff Ballabon, Center for Jewish Values Bill May, Catholics for the Common Good Oliver N.E. Kellman, Jr., National Faith Based Coalition Rev. Rusty Thomas, Eijah Ministries Dr. Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Dr. Steve Lemke, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Dr. Craig Blaising, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas Austin Ruse, Culture of Life Foundation Thomas Glessner, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates Leslee Unruh, Abstinence Clearinghouse Thomas A. Shields, Coalition for Marriage and Family Bradley Mattes, Life Issues Institute Warren Kelley, National Center for Freedom & Renewal Robert B. Carlson, American Civil Rights Union Chuck Muth, Citizen Outreach Jennifer Bingham, Susan B. Anthony List Paul Caprio, Family-PAC Federal Larry Cirignano, William Greene, C. Preston Noell III, Tradition, Family, Property, Inc. Phil Burress, Citizens for Community Values Alvin Williams, Black America’s PAC (BAMPAC) Donald E. Wildmon, American Family Association Stephen M. Crampton, AFA Center for Law & Policy Dr. Patricia McEwen, Life Coalition International Rev. Keith Tucci, Life Coalition International Richard Ford, Heritage Alliance Karen Testerman, Cornerstone Policy Research Gregory K. Blankenship, Illinois Policy Institute Mary Anne Hackett, Catholic Citizens of Illinois Irwin Essenfeld, Renew Illinois Foundation Mary T Erickson, Illinois Citizens for Life Peter LaBarbera, Illinois Family Institute Thomas Smith, America 21 (Tennessee) Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society, Pro-life Law Center (Chicago) Denise Mackura, Ohio Right to Life Russell Johnson, American Restoration Project (Pastor, Fairfield Christian Church, OH) James E. Barrett, Michigan Chamber of Commerce Gary Glenn, American Family Association of Michigan Len Deo, New Jersey Family Policy Council Dr. Steven J. Kidder, New York State Family Policy Council, Inc. Michael S. Heath, Christian Civic League of Maine Kenneth Endean, Maine Association of Christian Schools Lisa E. Roche, Esq, Maine Right to Life Committee Cathie Adams, Texas Eagle Forum Kris Mineau, Massachusetts Family Institute Diane Gramley, American Family Association of Pennsylvania Dr. Ed Johnson, Minnesota Association of Christian Schools Tom Prichard, Minnesota Family Council Michael N. Duff, United Families Idaho Julie Lynde, Cornerstone Institute of Idaho Chuck Hurley, Iowa Family Policy Center Kelly M. Rosati, JD, Hawaii Family Forum Dr. James Efaw, Colorado Association of Christian Schools Gene Mills, Louisiana Family Forum Sadie Fields, Christian Coalition of Georgia Rev. Reece Yandle, South Carolina Association of Christian Schools Brad Fleming, Maryland Association of Christian Educators Douglas P. Stiegler, Family Protection Lobby – Maryland Dr. Ronald Konopaski, United For Life- San Francisco Dr. Joe Haas, North Carolina Christian School Association Bill Brooks, North Carolina Family Policy Council Robert E. Regier, South Dakota Family Policy Council Kent Ostrander, The Family Foundation of Kentucky David Bydalek, Family First (Nebraska) Len Munsil, The Center for Arizona Policy Micah Clark, American Family Association of Indiana John Stemberger, Florida Family Action, Inc Forest Thigpen, Mississippi Center for Public Policy Michael L. Jestes, Oklahoma Family Policy Council Julaine K. Appling, The Family Research Institute of Wisconsin Joe Bob Mizzell, Alabama Baptist Christian Life Commission Tim Parish, Rocky Mountain Association of Christian Schools. Dr. Ken Hutcherson, Antioch Bible Church, Redmond, WA William F. Large, Alaska Republican Party Hiram Lewis, Esq., West Virginia GOP Dorcas K. Harbert, GOP County Chair, Monongalia County, Morgantown, WV Charles Bolen, Past Chairman, West Virginia Young Republicans Former Congressman Mick Staton (R-WV) West Virginia Senator Larry Kimble (R-WV) Mark Coyle, former Communications Director, WV Republican Party Grant M. Lally, Irish American Republicans Brian McCarthy, Irish-American Republicans Don A. Daughtery, Wisconsin Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Maclin Davis, Tennessee Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Mark E. Foster, Oregon Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Craig Hymowitz, Philadelphia Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Jefferson Knight, Florida Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Paul D. Seyferth, Kansas Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Frank B. Strickland, Georgia Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter William M. Todd, Ohio Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Corey R. Weber, California Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Thomas E. Wheeler, Indiana Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter William B. Sellers, Alabama Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Brian T. Egan, New York Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Ann Browning, California Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Cameron Quinn, Virginia Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Lee Goodman, Virginia Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter David Blackwood, Maryland Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Mark Chadwick, Southern Arizona Republican National Lawyers Association Chapter Keith Carlson, Orange County (CA) Republican Lawyers Association Rhet Miles, Chairman of the Benton County, Arkansas, Republican Committee Ron Shuping, The Inspiration Television Networks Janet Parshall, nationally syndicated Radio and TV host Martha Zoller, Radio Talk Show Host and Political Analyst (Georgia) Kevin P. Doran, Radio Talk Show host (New York) Mike Siegel, Radio host and author of Power Talk: The Influence of Talk Radio Chris Dickson. “The Dickson/Chappell Report”, (Midwest) Dom Giordano 1210 AM Radio (Philadelphia) Adam McManus, Radio Host of “Take A Stand” (Texas) Dave “Doc† Kirby, Radio Host (Alabama) Inga Barks, Radio Host (Southern CA) Marta Montelongo, Radio Host (Central CA) Vicki McKenna, Radio Host, News/Talk 1310 WIBA (Wisconsin) Brian Farrar, Syndicated talk show host, Michigan Talk Radio Network Mark R. Levin, author of Men in Black Craig Shirley, author, “Reagan’s Revolution; The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started it All.” Carol A. Taber, (former publisher, Working Woman and Working Mother magazines). Victor K. Williams, Professor of Law, Catholic University of America School of Law Clint Bolick, Esq. (Arizona)