Pryce to rally for female judicial nominees

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio) is expected to hold a rally tomorrow in support of two controversial female judicial nominees, as the Senate inches closer to a historic showdown over filibusters.
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House Republican Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio)


Pryce was scheduled to hold the event at 2 p.m. on the Cannon terrace in support of Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, who have been thrust into the center of the national debate over judicial filibusters.

Both nominees have already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, leading most observers to expect that either could trigger the so-called “nuclear option” when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) brings either to a vote on the Senate floor.

The “nuclear option” — or “constitutional option,” as Republicans refer to it — would end judicial filibusters and threatens to shut down work in the Senate if Frist and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) fail to work out a compromise.

The Wednesday press conference comes as conservative and liberal groups roll out massive message campaigns on either side of the unprecedented procedural maneuver.

Pryce is trying to focus on the nominees’ personal qualities by touting their legal experience and stressing the importance of nominating females to the federal bench.

“These women have worked all their lives to be where they are today and by denying them the up-or-down vote they deserve we risk reversing decades of progress for all females,” said Andrea Tantaros, a spokeswoman for Pryce.

Sens. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) were scheduled to join Pryce, along with 200 other Republican women, who should include a number of female GOP House members.

At the press conference, Pryce and other attendees will promote a letter she has written asking Reid to grant Owen and Rogers Brown an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor without the threat of a filibuster. Pryce will deliver the letter to Reid immediately after the press conference.

The letter was also signed by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), Thelma Drake (R-Va.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), Candice Miller (R-Mich.), Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

“These two outstanding jurists have spent their entire careers shattering the glass ceiling, but they face a virtual brick wall in the United States Senate,” the letter reads. “By putting partisan politics before principle, we risk reversing decades of progress.”

House Democrats were also expected to host events throughout the week, with their Senate colleagues, in opposition to the “nuclear option.”

Liberal organizations have criticized Owen and Rogers Brown for supporting limits on abortion rights and are painting both as judicial activists whose politics trump legal precedent.

Conservatives, on the other hand, argue that both nominees are highly qualified and were the victims of Democratic obstruction when they were denied a floor vote during President Bush’s first term.

Rogers Brown is a justice on the California Supreme Court and has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Owens is a justice on the Texas Supreme Court and has been nominated to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th District.

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