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For Immediate Release

Press Briefing Excerpts by Ari Fleischer 01/06/02

"President Bush has nominated 60 judges to the federal judiciary, and only 18, or 27 percent have been confirmed. The Senate confirmed 57 percent of President Clinton's judicial nominations in his first year, 62 percent of President Bush's in his first year, and 91 percent of President Reagan's judicial nominations.

Vice President Cheney, earlier this week, sent a letter to Senator Leahy, citing the slow pace of confirmations and urged the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate to take action so justice can be done. Failure to confirm qualified individuals to serve in the federal government and the federal judiciary hurts the American people. It's time for the Senate to act on the President's nominees and ensure that the important work of American government can be done and that justice can be carried out."

Q Ari, does the President -- back on judicial nominations, does the President believe that ideological differences are driving the slow rate of confirmations?

MR. FLEISCHER: You know, I don't know that the President is as interested in what the reasons may be, whether they're ideological or just the difficulty of the Senate being governed with a small majority, as it is that this is hurting the American people, whatever the reason.

The pace of the Senate is far, far behind the pace of previous Senates for Presidents in their first years, especially, and that is really troubling. And I walked you through the numbers, they speak for themselves, and at a time when you see that more vacancies today than when the administration began, even though the President has made a record number of appointments, something is going wrong in the United States Senate, and that something is hurting the American people -- his ability to get swift deliberations about justice.

Q Is the pace seen here, the pace by Leahy's committee seen here as perhaps a signal of what the White House could expect about a possible future Supreme Court nomination?

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