Conservatives call for cloture on Boyle

Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of conservative groups active on judiciary issues, said that he and his allies will press Republican senators to circumvent Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) if he does not schedule a vote on 4th Circuit nominee Terrence Boyle before the August recess.

Miranda, Frist’s former counsel in charge of plotting strategy on judicial nominees, said that if 16 senators sign a cloture petition on Boyle’s nomination they could force a floor vote since the Judiciary Committee has already discharged the nomination. He said that several Senate leadership aides have been informed of the plan.

But a Senate leadership aide said a cloture petition would not be practical for forcing a floor vote if Frist objects. The aide said senators could only force a vote if Boyle’s nomination were already pending on the floor, adding that it’s the majority leader’s prerogative to call up a nomination.

Miranda acknowledged it would be difficult to force a vote on Boyle without Frist’s consent but said the effort would emphasize conservatives’ position.

“It will be an expression of our frustration,” he said.

A conservative activist who attended a recent meeting with one of Boyle’s home-state senators, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), reported that Burr said the timing on Boyle was “entirely” up to Frist. That has lead some conservatives to conclude more pressure needs to be placed on Frist.

More than 50 conservative leaders and activists have signed a draft letter dated today urging action on Boyle. It was addressed to Senate Republican leaders, Burr and Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.). The leaders of a group of centrists who may ultimately determine the nominee’s fate, the Gang of 14, were also included.

“This is the first time that a coalition of organizations has joined in one letter to request a vote for a single Bush circuit court nominee,” the conservatives wrote.

The lengthy letter went on to defend Boyle’s record as a judge, paying particular attention to cases in which critics have charged that Boyle demonstrated hostility to law enforcement and first responders. It also stated that the hostility assertion “at best, miscomprehends and, at worse, intentionally mischaracterizes” the judge’s positions.

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