WASHINGTON -- After 40 hours of nonstop talking organized by Republicans to protest filibusters on judicial nominees, Senate Democrats added two more names yesterday to the list of judges they have stalled successfully.
Democrats declared the longest uninterrupted Senate debate in 15 years a victory for their side. Republicans said the Democrats' methods could come back to haunt them.
In each of three successive votes yesterday morning, Republicans secured 53 votes to advance the judicial nominees to a final confirmation vote. That was seven short of the 60 needed to overcome Democratic resistance.
As in similar confrontations on judges this year, the only Democrats to side with the 51 Senate Republicans were Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Zell Miller of Georgia.
Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Democrats were energized by the GOP-staged talkfest. "The other side seems to think they can just intimidate us," he said. "We are not going to let the president take the judiciary and move it out of the mainstream."
But Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, said some Republicans already are plotting revenge for the day when a Democratic president tries to get his judges approved. His colleagues are saying, "We'll have our opportunity someday, and we'll make sure there's not another liberal judge. Ever!" Santorum said.
With votes of 53 to 42, 53 to 43, and 53 to 43, the Senate failed to move the nominations of Texas judge Priscilla Owen and California judges Carolyn Kuhl and Janice Rogers Brown to appeals court positions.
Bush, who met with the three nominees Thursday at the White House, said the Senate action "is just plain wrong."
It was the first such vote for Kuhl and Brown, increasing to six the number of appellate court nominations stalled by Democratic filibusters. The other four are Owen, defeated for a fourth time, Mississippi judge Charles Pickering, Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, and lawyer Miguel Estrada. Estrada dropped his nomination after losing nine filibuster votes.
Senate majority leader Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, said that Republicans, despite losing the votes, had communicated "that we today cannot accept the unprecedented" filibustering of judicial nominations.