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The following is excerpted from a piece by Jim VandeHei and Charles Babington in today's Washington Post:
Bush's Call for Vote on Judges Adds Urgency to Filibuster Battle
By Jim VandeHei and Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 10, 2005; A04
President Bush yesterday called for an immediate vote on two of his most controversial judicial nominations, increasing pressure on Senate Republicans to consider a historic rule change that would make it easier for him, and future presidents, to reshape the federal bench, including the Supreme Court.
Bush issued a statement from Europe demanding an "up-or-down vote" on Priscilla R. Owen and Terrence W. Boyle for seats on appellate courts only hours before Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales held a news conference to cast the judicial dispute as one of "fairness." Despite a flurry of congressional negotiations yesterday, Senate Republicans appear increasingly likely to exercise the "nuclear option" of changing Senate rules to prevent Democrats from filibustering Bush's judicial nominees.
The president, who initiated the conflict by renominating judges whom Democrats had blocked during his first term and demanding new votes this year, is essentially guaranteeing a showdown that is as much about the power of the presidency as Democratic obstinacy, according to numerous government scholars. The result could be a more powerful White House, a weakened Congress and the possible erosion, if not end of, the most powerful tool available to the minority party, the filibuster, the scholars said.