Canton Repository

May 24, 2005

Ohio senator plays key role in agreement

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mike DeWine played a key role in behind the scenes negotiations that on Monday averted a showdown over several of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

The Ohio Republican was part of a small bipartisan group of senators who reached an accord opening the way for full Senate consideration of three of five controversial federal judicial nominees. The agreement avoids a showdown on today in which Republicans were hoping to end the use of the filibuster to prevent votes on judicial candidates.

“This is a good day for the United States Senate, but I think more important it’s a good day for the country,” said DeWine, the sixth senator to speak when the group unveiled the agreement.

DeWine disclosed for the first time that if no compromise had been reached he would have voted in favor of the rules change barring filibusters on judicial appointments.

“I was prepared to do that (today) if we could not reach an agreement,” said DeWine, who previously refused to say whether he would support Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s efforts to change the rules.

DeWine added that use of the “constitutional option,” as it is called by its proponents, “would not be good for the Senate or the country.”

Ohio’s other senator, Republican George Voinovich, has supported changing the rules if necessary.

Under the agreement, the Democratic Senate minority will allow confirmation votes for Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor, nominated to appeals court seats.

At the same time, the Democrats did not agree to cut off debate on two other nominees, Henry Saad and William Myers. Without assurance of a vote, they cannot win confirmation to the federal court.

With both sides looking ahead to a potential battle over a Supreme Court appointment, the agreement also said future judicial nominees should only be filibustered under “extraordinary circumstances.” But it leaves the right to filibuster any nomination intact.