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Five Judicial Nominations to be Considered on Tuesday

After weeks of partisan infighting over President Bush’s stalled judicial nominations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated Monday that the Senate will vote Tuesday on as many as five lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

“Sen. Reid is working to have the Senate confirm a number of judges as early as Tuesday afternoon, consistent with our efforts to treat President Bush’s judicial nominees with more respect than President Clinton’s nominees received from a Republican Senate,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said after the Majority Leader made the announcement.

While Reid didn’t name the judges to be considered, sources said the Majority Leader is looking to advance two outstanding circuit court judges and three district court hopefuls. Among them are Raymond Kethledge and Helene White, both candidates for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals whose nominations were originally set to move before Memorial Day as part of a deal between Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

At that time, Reid agreed to advance three circuit court hopefuls after McConnell threatened to hold as hostage a popular highway funding bill. However, just one of the trio ended up moving as Senators awaited more information about White and Kethledge that included updated ratings from the American Bar Association.

If Kethledge and White are approved tomorrow, the Senate will grow to 10 the number of circuit court judges approved this Congress. Republicans are hoping to win confirmation of at least 15 federal appeals judges, the same number approved by the GOP Senate in President Bill Clinton’s final two years in office.

Beyond the circuit court judges, the Senate is poised to approve the district court nominations of William Lawrence of Indiana, G. Murray Snow of Arizona and Stephen Murphy of Michigan.

The fight over President Bush’s judicial picks has been mired in partisanship for months, but the heat has been turned up as the 2008 election nears. Republicans have regularly taken to the floor to make threats, and have even forced procedural hurdles to the Democratic agenda to press Reid to bring more nominees to the floor for a vote.

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