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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.

Dabney Friedrich
November 13, 2003

Dabney just walked in and we look forward to taking your questions

Dabney Friedrich
Thank you all for joining me today. The 30 hour debate on the judicial confirmation process has been going on for around 22 hours now. Let's get to the questions!

Joshua, from Washington DC writes:
If the judicial process is broken now that four of President Bush's nominees are being blocked, how would you describe the process in the 90's when over 60 of President Clinton's nominations were blocked?

Dabney Friedrich
Thanks for the question, Joshua

There is no question that the judicial confirmation process is broken, and it has been broken for a very long time. More than four of President Bush's nominees are being blocked by Senate democrats -- both in committee and on the Senate floor.

The President has proposed reforms in the process which would apply no matter which party is in control of the Senate or who the President is. He will continue to call on the Senate to perform its constitutional responsibility to vote up or down on judicial nominees within a reasonable time after nomination.

Ron, from Aiken, SC writes:
What is the reaction to the filibustering in the senate about judicial nominations?

Dabney Friedrich
Naturally we are very disappointed. President Bush has worked hard to fill vacancies on the federal bench with qualified individuals. He has sent the Senate nominees who have superb qualifications and he has done so promptly -- unfortunately the Senate has failed to fulfill its constitutional duty and provide these nominees with an up or down vote.

The constitution does not require the Senate to support the President's nominees, only to provide advice and consent and give them a vote.

Billy, from Placentia, CA writes:
Why are the President and Senate Republicans making such a big deal out of the 4 judicial appointees? Isn't that why we have an approval mechanism in place, so the people's reps can have some input ?

Dabney Friedrich
The President is concerned about all of his judicial nominees, particularly those he has nominated to the federal courts of appeals.

Senate Democrats have tried to focus the debate on four nominees who have already been filibustered on the Senate floor. But they are actually blocking, and threatening to block, many more -- especially those to the federal courts of appeals.

Some of the President's nominees have waited months, and even years, for a hearing. Fifteen of the President's appeals court nominees have had to wait over a year for a hearing. That number is more than the number of appeals court nominees who had to wait over a year for a hearing in the last 50 years combined.

Senate Democrats are also threatening to filibuster other distinguished nominees, some of whom have not even reached the Senate floor.

Bryan, from Drexel Hill, PA writes:
What kind of vetting process does a potential judicial nominee go through before she is officially nominated by the President? It obviously isn't enough to satisfy the Senate.

Dabney Friedrich
Hello Bryan,

The President has nominated men and women of exceptional experience, integrity and intellect. Each judicial candidate undergoes a thorough vetting process. Initially, counsel in the White House vet potential candidates in consultation with home State Senators and Department of Justice lawyers. After a candidate is approved by the President, the FBI does a full background investigation. Concurrently, lawyers in the Department of Justice conduct a comprehensive review of the candidate's legal qualifications.

Gail, from Woodridge, NY USA writes:
I was wondering how many Senators showed up for this 30-Hour Marathon concerning judicial nominations. Please respond. Thank You Gail Fischer

Dabney Friedrich
Hi Gail,

It is expected that by the end of the day, most, if not all, of the Senators will have been involved in the debate.

Richard, from New York, NY writes:
Thank you for taking our questions. Isn't it true that President Bush has had more success than Presidents Clinton and Reagan in getting his nominees confirmed? Even though democrats are using unprecedented measures to block some nominees, I don't see what the fuss is about since the overall confirmation rate is very high.

Dabney Friedrich
Senate democrats have been using unprecedented tactics to obstruct President Bush's courts of appeals nominees. As a result, only 63 percent of his courts of appeals nominees have been confirmed. In contrast, in the first three years of the past two administrations, the Senate voted on 80 percent of the appeals court nominees.

Right now, 11 percent of the federal courts of appeals are vacant, and 12 have been declared judicial emergencies.

Jeffrey, from Raleigh NC writes:
Hello Ms Friedrich Many thanks for this opportunity. I am a well informed consistent and conservative voter. In my opinion, the White House made no efforts to appeal to the American people to break the deadlock on this issue. Why?

Again, I appreciate this opportunity.



Dabney Friedrich
The President considers the nomination and appointment of federal judges to be one of his greatest responsibilities.

The President speaks often on the issue of judicial nominations. Go to As you know, he proposed a plan to reform the broken confirmation process. And he has worked hard to support his nominees. Just this morning, he met with three of his judicial nominees to the federal courts of appeals -- Justice Janice Rogers Brown, Judge Carolyn Kuhl and Justice Priscilla Owen ( ).

Daniel, from San Diego, CA writes:
My leader, the Democratic leadership, said that Bush's judges are too Right Wing extrieme and their too out of the mainstream. Why does the President bother sending up judges that are too conservative which wont pass through the Democrat's Flak guns, and insted send moderate conservatives? This would have a better chance of surviving our flak wall.

Dabney Friedrich
Hello Daniel,

I disagree with your premise. The President's nominees enjoy support from across the political spectrum; they have diverse backgrounds and sufficient votes to be confirmed by a bipartisan majority of Senators.

John, from Oakland, CA writes:
Why does President Bush insist on nominating right wing moralists to the judicial bench? I have no sympathy for them.

Dabney Friedrich
Anyone who takes the time to examine the records of the President's judicial nominees will see that they represent the mainstream of American law and values and are committed to interpreting the law in a fair and even-handed manner.

Dabney Friedrich
Thank you for your questions today. This is a very important issue for all Americans and I encourage you to become involved in the process and let your Senators know how you feel. I'm looking forward to participating in "Ask the White House" again soon.

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