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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release March 9, 2000


Washington, DC --Today, we have won an important victory for justice -- and for common sense.

I'm deeply gratified that the Senate has finally confirmed Richard Paez and Marsha Berzon --and that they can now take their seats on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

We all know they're qualified; we all know they're outstanding jurists. And it is inexcusable that the Republican Senate played politics with these crucial nominations.

Judge Paez has had to wait longer than any other federal judicial nominee in United States history. Sadly, that's the only kind of history this Senate has been making when it comes to our courts.

Both of these judges have won universal praise -- except in the Senate chamber. And that shows that the Senate majority is out of touch with judicial standards.

I wish these were isolated cases. Unfortunately, they're not. There are approximately 75 vacancies on the federal bench, and over 20 of them are considered judicial emergencies. And we've seen a troubling pattern of the Republican Party standing against qualified judicial nominees who happen to be women and minorities.

When it comes to our judiciary, justice delayed is still justice denied. So today, I say to the Senate majority once again: stop holding our justice system hostage. If you're really serious about protecting America's families, then stop playing politics with our federal courts.

Finally, let me say that I'm gratified that when Senator Daschle asked me to come up to Capitol Hill today, some Republicans quickly changed their views and voted for what was right. I never knew I had so much influence in the Republican Party.

Senator Daschle, I can?t wait to come back to Capitol Hill -- so we can get the Republicans to change their minds and pass a real Patients' Bill of Rights, pass a prescription drug benefit for all our seniors, and reduce class size in schools across America.

I look forward to the day when Judges Paez and Berzon take the bench. I know they will serve with honor and dignity. And I eagerly await the day when we have a majority in the Senate that believes in justice first, and politics last --a Senate that will treat all nominees, from all backgrounds, with the fairness and respect they deserve.

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