Conservatives, Liberals Brace for Face-Off Over Judicial Nominees

Social conservatives and liberals are bracing for a possible face-off this week at the Senate over the filibuster of judicial nominees.

According to a May 13 statement by Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senate Republicans will bring two of President Bush’s judicial nominees -- Priscilla Owen of Texas and Janice Rogers Brown of California, who were filibustered during the last session – up for a vote.

Should Democrats move to block their nomination and Republicans fail to block the filibuster, Frist said he would call for a procedural change that will ban the use of judicial filibustering.

The likely showdown at the Senate comes nearly one month after Christian conservatives launched a “Justice Sunday” telecast to end the use of filibusters. During the broadcast, key evangelical leaders, including Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, urged viewers to contact senators and make sure the filibustering stops.

According to the social evangelical leaders, judicial nominations are one of the most critical topics on faith. They say a change in the makeup of the Supreme Court could potentially impact the future of moral issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion and religious freedom.

Currently Republicans hold 55 seats in the 100-member Senate. Democrats have 44 seats; there is one independent.

Republicans need 60 votes to break a filibuster and the nominees need a simple majority vote to gain a seat. Frist also needs a minimum of 50 votes to pass the rules change to abolish the filibuster.