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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 23:35 GMT
Democrats defy Bush over judges
Capitol Hill workers prepare beds for senators
Both sides prepared well for the marathon session
Democrats in the United States Senate have blocked votes on several of President Bush's choices for top judges.

Republicans launched a marathon 30-hour session of the Senate in order to draw attention to Democrat block.

The Democratic senators refused to accept the judicial nominees, saying they were too conservative.

Mr Bush criticised the Democrats' tactics as "shameful".

For two days and nights, both sides remained at their posts, occasionally napping in camp beds scattered around the Senate chamber.

The BBC's David Bamford, in Washington says bleary-eyed senators have been making their way home at the end of the mammoth session.

It was characterised alternately, he says, by acrimony and intense tedium.

We confirmed 98% of Bush's judges and all we got were these lousy t-shirts
Democrat t-shirt

Democrats did not have enough votes to reject the nominees outright.

However, despite two votes, Republicans could not muster the 60 votes needed to bring the debate to an end.

Speaking after it was adjourned without a vote, President Bush's spokesman Scott McClellan accused "partisan" senators of "playing politics with the judicial process at the expense of timely justice for the American people".

But Democrat senator Edward Kennedy said it was time for Mr Bush to send back his "turkeys".

"A week next Thursday is Thanksgiving when the presidents can release turkeys out to pasture - and my suggestion is that this president release all of his right-wing turkeys and send them back to pasture because we are not going to accept them."

Tit for tat

Tired Republicans said there was no precedent for refusing to allow votes on the president's judicial choices.

Democrats, however, argued that the Republican-led Senate wants to appoint judges who do not represent most Americans.

President Bush made his attack on the marathon session in an appearance with three of his nominees - judges Priscilla Owen of Texas and Carolyn Kuhl and Janice Rogers Brown, both from California.

He said he would stand by them "to the bitter end because they're the absolute right pick for their respective positions".

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said it was regrettable that the president had "politicised these nominations and raised the level of confrontation within the debate itself".

'Bad treatment'

Majority leader Bill Frist, an ally of President Bush, called the event a "justice-for-justices" session, accusing the Democrats of "partisan obstructionism".

Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican who chairs the judiciary committee, said the Democrats were "treating the president in a ridiculous, unconstitutional fashion".

Democrats respond that they have helped approve 168 Bush nominees, blocking only four.

The Democrats also argue that Republicans refused to confirm 63 judges nominated by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

The debate began at 1800 Washington time (2300GMT) on Wednesday and ended at 0930 on Friday (1430GMT).

The BBC's Richard Forrest
"The Democrats say some of the proposed judges are too extreme"

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