A showdown looms in the U.S. Senate, which has begun debate on one of President Bush's most contested judicial nominees and a possible rule change strongly opposed by Democrats.
The debate began Wednesday with Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist raising the nomination of Judge Priscilla Owen.
She is one of seven appeals court candidates Democrats have blocked using filibusters, a parliamentary delaying tactic. Republicans have said that unless Democrats allow votes on all seven, they will try to enact a new rule banning filibusters against judicial nominees.
The minority Democrats, who consider the seven Bush nominees too conservative, accused Republicans of making a power grab.
The dispute has been intensified by the effect the proposed change could have on future Supreme Court nominations.
It is unclear whether Republican leaders have the votes to achieve their goal, known as the "nuclear option."
Some information for this report provided by AP.