(CNSNews.com) - An effort to end the filibuster against Miguel Estrada's nomination to the federal appeals court in Washington failed Thursday when the Senate voted 55-44 on a motion to invoke cloture, which would end debate and permit a floor vote.

Republicans fell five short of the 60 votes they need to end debate and bring Estrada's nomination to a vote. They wasted no time in blaming Democrats for obstructionism.

"Forty-four Democrats are now on record as filibustering Miguel Estrada, a nominee with the American Bar Association's highest rating," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in a press release.

Cornyn is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "These 44 Democrats claim their filibuster is intended only to persuade the nominee to provide confidential memoranda from his days in the Clinton administration's Office of Solicitor General," Cornyn continued.

"But such documents are protected by lawyer-client privilege, and every living former Solicitor General - Republican and Democrat - strongly oppose violating this hallmark of our judicial system."

Democrats say they need to "learn more" about Estrada before voting on his nomination, but Republicans note that Democrats have not yet submitted a single question to Estrada - indicating they oppose Estrada mostly because President Bush appointed him.

Bush nominated Estrada two years ago. If confirmed, Estrada would become the first Hispanic on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The president had harsh words for Democrats who orchestrated and supported the filibuster. "Some Senators who once insisted that every appeals court nominee deserves a timely vote have now abandoned that principle for partisan politics," said Bush in a statement. "Their tactics are an injustice and unfair to the good man I have nominated and unfaithful to the Senate's own obligations."

Bush also said he would not abandon his nominee, in spite of the cloture vote. "I will stand by Miguel Estrada's side until he is sworn in as a judge. I call on the Senate Democratic leadership to stop playing politics and permit a vote on Miguel Estrada's nomination," said Bush.

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