The Bush administration, trying to push through judicial nominations before Republicans lose control of the Senate, resubmitted six nominees deemed by Democrats too conservative for the federal bench.
Five nominees were the subject of an angry exchange in August when Democrats said their selection was a sop to the president's conservative base.
The White House on Wednesday submitted Terrence Boyle of North Carolina and William James Haynes II of Virginia to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.; Michael Brunson Wallace of Mississippi to the 5th Circuit in New Orleans; Peter Keisler of Maryland to the District of Columbia Circuit; and William Gerry Myers III and Norman Randy Smith, both of Idaho, for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.
Everyone except Keisler has generated intense opposition from Democrats.
Slap in face of bipartisanism
Under Senate rules the nominations must be resubmitted after Congress takes an extended break, as was the case this year for the 2006 election.
"Democrats have asked the president to be bipartisan, but this is a clear slap in the face at our request," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Judiciary Committee. "For the sake of the country, we hope that this is an aberration because the president feels he must placate his hard-right base, rather than an indication of things to come."
Sen. Jon Cornyn, R-Texas, a vocal backer of many of Bush's judicial picks, said he thought it would be "very tough" to get the nominees through the Senate during the lame-duck session. But, he added, "Hope springs eternal."
Cornyn said judicial nominees will test the Democrats' stated desire to run the Senate with greater bipartisanship.
"We'll see whether now that they're in majority status, if we're going to have ideological litmus tests for judges," Cornyn said.
The president's picks for the federal bench have sparked angry debate in the Senate. The incoming majority leader, Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, once threatened to filibuster Boyle's nomination if it came to the full Senate.
Haynes was an architect of the Bush administration's eventually abandoned policy on the treatment of terrorism detainees. He later told a Senate panel that reversing the policy was the "right thing to do."
Bush this week also has sent several nonjudicial nominees to the Senate. One was Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, renominated as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency that directs U.S. overseas broadcasts. His nomination has bogged down because allegations of misconduct. A report released in August by the State Department's inspector general said Tomlinson misused government funds for two years as the board chairman. He disputed the allegations.