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Press Release

    Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters Letter

    04/04/2005

    National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters Letter

    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 ­ 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, CatholicVote.org
    William Greene, RightMarch.com
    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, FamilySecurityMatters.com (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)