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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

In Focus: Judicial Nominations

Al Gonzales
Al Gonzales, White House Counsel
October 30, 2003

Al Gonzales
I am glad to be back. I look forward to your questions. Fire away!

Ron, from New York City writes:
What is your reaction to the blocking of Judge Pickering today?

Alberto Gonzales
Judge Pickering is a distinguished jurist with a fine record of community involvment. As we know he was confirmed to be a district judge over a decade ago and as a result of his service he was rated well qualified by the American Bar Association. I was disappointed that this fine man was blocked from receiving a floor vote to serve in a seat that has been designated a judicial emergency. We will continue to work with the Senate leadership to deal with this issue. As you know a year ago today the President proposed a plan to return fairness and dignity to the process for all nominees.

Abby, from New Jersey writes:
If Senator Schumer believes that Judge Pickering is not qualified, he should be able to voice that opinion, shouldn't he? Isn't this what the checks and balances between the executive and the legislative is all about?

Thank you for taking my question


Alberto Gonzales
We believe that all Senators should be able to express their views through a floor vote on every nominee. We believe it is unfair for a minority of Senators to prevent their colleagues from exercising their constitutional role in the judicial confirmation process.

Lawrence, from sammamish WA writes:
currently how many judicial nominees are waiting to be confirmed.

Alberto Gonzales
Currently there are 35 nominees pending in the Senate. Sixteen are court of appeals nominees. Since 2001 the President has nominated 46 individuals to the federal courts of appeal, but only 63% have been confirmed. During the first three years of the previous two administrations, the senate confirmed approximately 80% of the appellate court nominees.

Mark, from Santa Fe writes:
Could you describe the fairness and dignity that Republicans are known for in their confirmation process of Democratic nominees?

Alberto Gonzales
As the President has said when he proposed his plan for timely consideration of all judicial nominees, it is time to move beyond the partisan politics of the past and ensure that every judicial nominee receives an up or down vote, regardless of who is in the White House or who controls the Senate. Click here to read more about the President's plan.

Sue, from Mississippi writes:
So are fillibusters unfair? Isn't it unfair for the administration to select such a polarizing figure for nomination and then blame the minority?

Alberto Gonzales
We believe all of the President's nominees are well qualified and within the mainstream of American jurisprudence. The real unfairness is that a small group of senators is denying these outstanding candidates an up or down floor vote.

Richard, from New York, NY writes:
Judge Gonzales, Thank you for answering our questions. I saw your speech last week at the ABA conference on diversity, and was very moved by it. I have been impressed so far with the diversity of the President's nominations to the federal bench and to senior Justice Department positions. But some minority nominees continue to have difficulty in the confirmation process. Will these problems have an effect on the diversity of the President's nominees in the future?

Thank you again, and keep up the good work.

Alberto Gonzales
The President looks first to character and competence in his nominees but he does believe in the importance of diversity. The President will continue to nominate to the judiciary highly qualified men and women from every community in America .

Greg, from Indiana writes:
Is the White House going to take a much more active roll in getting these nominees confirmed?

Alberto Gonzales
The White House takes a very active role in getting all of the President's nominees confirmed. Among other things, we meet regularly with Senate leadership and staff, we talk often with outside groups, and we communicate with the press about the outstanding qualifications of our nominees.

Christopher, from Washington, DC writes:
Mr. Gonzales, I admire the work you do in the White House, and I would like to say thank you for the service you give to our country.

I was wondering if your office offers internships for undergraduate students


Alberto Gonzales
Yes, the White House does offer internships to undergraduate and graduate students. Click here to learn more.

Mark, from Santa Fe, New Mexico writes:
What is the White House doing to find the traitor who leaked information about Mr. Wilson's wife?

Alberto Gonzales
The President has directed full cooperation with the career prosecutors at the Department of Justice conducting the investigation. If you have specific questions about the investigation you should contact DOJ.

Johannes, from Ergoldsbach, Germany writes:
Hello Mr. Gonzales What's your exact job in the Bush administration?

Alberto Gonzales
Counsel to the President... I am the President's lawyer.

Kim, from Kentucky writes:
Hi Al, Is there a limit to the time frame it can take to appoint these federal judges? I am surprised that it has been a year and still the Senate has refused to budge from its position. Exactly what has transpired since the last time you hosted "Ask The Whitehouse"? These poor individuals have been left hanging, and must feel that they are in limbo. Are they still practicing while they wait? Thank you

Alberto Gonzales
The President has proposed a solution to repair the broken confirmation process. Click here for specifics on the plan.

Karen, from San Diego writes:
Good afternoon, I was wondering how to obtain a copy of the Executive Order President Bush signed, declaring California a disaster area?

Regards, Karen Rogan

Alberto Gonzales
Hi Karen, please click here to read the declaration. Hope you and your family are safe.

Al Gonzales
Thank you all for joining me today. I hope we can chat again soon.