Groups urge Senate to end judicial filibusters

We urge the Senate to consider and reject the judicial filibuster, in the full recognition that its fate has no practical implication for the legislative filibuster.

April 21, 2005

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist
United States Senate
S-230 United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20510 

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
United States Senate
S-221 United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators:

In the past few weeks, attempts have been made to preserve the unprecedented filibuster against federal appeals court nominees by arguing that its end will signal the demise of the filibuster against legislative initiatives.  As opponents of this abuse of the filibuster against the President’s judicial appointments, we are writing to express our determination to support and defend the legislative filibuster against any attempts to eliminate it. 

The distinctions are abundantly clear.  For centuries, the United States Senate conducted the business of reviewing, debating and affirming or rejecting Presidential judicial nominations without either side resorting to sustained filibusters as a tool to stifle debate.  In the 1990s, President William Clinton’s judicial nominees, many of them controversial or extremely liberal in their brand of constitutional interpretation, were, in keeping with the customs and traditions of the Senate, not subjected to filibusters and several were confirmed with majority, but less than three-fifths, support of the Senate.  While signatories to this letter opposed several of these nominees, and our fears in many cases have been borne out due to an increase in judicial activism, the nominees nonetheless appropriately received floor votes in keeping with the Senate’s duty of advice and consent.

The legislative filibuster, in contrast, offers the minority another avenue to seek consensus and to offer amendments that shape legislation to a better outcome.  This is, of course, irrelevant with judicial nominees, who must either be accepted or rejected.  For this reason we wholeheartedly support the retention of the legislative filibuster and will advocate for it in any context, whichever political party enjoys majority status.  We believe that the consensus on this issue is strong across the political spectrum.  Accordingly, we urge the Senate to consider and reject the judicial filibuster, in the full recognition that its fate has no practical implication for the legislative filibuster, which political adversaries of all stripes justly treasure.


Abstinence Clearinghouse
American Assoc. of Christian Schools
American Family Association
American Family Association of Michigan
American Family Association of Pennsylvania
Americans United for Life
American Values
Center for Individual Freedom
Center for a Just Society
Center for Reclaiming America
Citizens for Community Values
Coalition for a Fair Judiciary
Coalition for Marriage and Family
Coalition of African American Pastors
Coral Ridge Ministries
Concerned Women for America
Family Action Council International
Family Foundation of Virginia
Family Protection Lobby
Family Research Council
Family Research Institute of Wisconsin
Family Resource Network
Focus on the Family
Hamilton Strategies
Inspiration Television Networks
Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration
Let Freedom Ring
Ohio Restoration Project
Liberty Legal Institute
Life Coalition International
New York Family Policy Council
Judicial Confirmation Network
Louisiana Family Forum
Massachusetts Family Institute
National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters
National Institute of Family and Life Advocates
New York State Family Policy Council
Population Research Institute
South Dakota Family Policy Council
Susan B. Anthony List
Traditional Values Coalition
United Families Idaho
USA Next
Wilberforce Forum

cc: Members of the United States Senate

[Posted April 21, 2005
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