The temporary lull in judicial confirmation battles has come to an end. Hoping to ramp up its base in time for the midterm elections, the White House recently promised supporters that it will flood the Senate with more right-wing appeals court nominees. Simultaneously, Senate Republicans have pushed for votes on existing ones, some of whom are so divisive that Majority Leader Bill Frist has not acted until now. Meanwhile, conservative activists sit like vultures, hoping that the 86-year-old John Paul Stevens retires and gives President Bush a crack at naming a third justice.
The withdrawal of Miguel Estrada's judicial nomination is a setback for the Bush administration in its efforts to cement the far right's hold on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Will this be a temporary setback? That depends in part on whether President Bush -- with the help of Senate Republicans -- is able to push through the nominations of Brett Kavanaugh and Janice Rogers Brown, two other right-wing nominees to the D.C. Circuit who, like Estrada, are extremists unfit for the bench.