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Deadlock on Judges

From Roll Call (sub req'd):

Senate Republicans, facing a major political battle and a tight legislative calendar, said last week that there's little chance they can move any of the remaining controversial judicial nominations before the November elections.

Both GOP Senators and aides said the four weeks remaining on the pre-election schedule provides them with little opportunity to engage in a potentially brutal floor fight over a polarizing court nominee.

The ideal time, they said, would be to consider a nomination now, before the Senate recesses for August and before the campaign season heats up. But that window is all but shut.

"If we don't move people before August, it's going to be harder to move them at all," said a Senate Republican aide. "Democrats can dig in, and they have the backdrop of the end of the session."

Another well-placed Republican Senate staffer said the chance of the chamber taking on a controversial nomination before Election Day is "Zilch. Zero."

Robert Novak touched on this issue last week, blaming Senators Frist and Specter for not pushing the issue harder and saying that "it seems too late for a Senate battle to impact the midterm campaign." Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, disagreed, writing in NRO last week that it is "late, but not too late, to focus the public on what is at stake with judicial confirmations."

If Senate Republicans can't gin up a fight over judicial nomations this fall, it will give the Republican base - already suffereing from a lack of enthusiasm - one less reason to get up and go to the polls on Election Day.