Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Brown, Owen

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave formal approval Thursday to federal appellate court nominees Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen. Both nominees were filibustered by Democrats in President Bush’s first term.

“In the last Congress, these highly qualified women were blocked by a partisan filibuster when Democrats refused to give them an up or down vote,” Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) said in a statement. “Soon, all 100 senators will have to decide if these highly qualified candidates will get a fair up or down vote on the Senate floor.”

Brown is a California Supreme Court justice and Owen sits on the Texas Supreme Court. Democrats derailed Brown’s confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Nov. 14, 2003, when she failed to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Owen was blocked four times, starting in May 2003, for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. President Bush renominated both in January.

Frist has declined to disclose which nominee would be the first to receive a Senate floor vote this year, but Republicans have privately suggested Brown or Owen would be ideal. Brown, for instance, was the first black woman to sit on California’s high court.