Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Senator Harry Reid Championed Paez Nomination
(After Long Delays, Senate Confirms 2 Judicial Nominees)
New York Times 10Mar00 P2
By Neil A. Lewis
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The long-stalled nomination of LDS judge Richard
A. Paez to the Nineth Circuit Court of Appeals was finally resolved
yesterday when the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination 59 to 39. But
the confirmation only happened when Paez' mother, Polly, called
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, an LDS Church member and the Senate's
second-ranking Democrat and asked him to intervene with other LDS
Church members in the Senate. "So that's what I did," said Senator
While the votes of LDS Senators were only one of the factors behind
Paez' confirmation, it may have been the deciding one. In addition to
Reid, three other LDS Senators, Orrin G. Hatch and Robert F. Bennett
of Utah, and Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, all Republicans, voted for
his confirmation. Hatch is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, which, along with the Senate's Republican leadership had
held up Paez' confirmation for four years. The other LDS Senator,
Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, voted against Paez' confirmation.
Paez' confirmation was more than just an ordinary dispute over
nominations, reports the Times' Lewis. The debate over his nomination
touched on a range of issues including fund-raising scandals, whether
Senate Republicans are tougher on Hispanic and female nominees as
well as ideology. Many criticized Paez as too liberal, and statements
he had made about anti-affirmative action propositions in California
made Republicans uncomfortable.
The three LDS votes put Paez so close to confirmation that Vice
President Al Gore returned to Washington from his campaign stops late
Wednesday night so that he could be there, in case the Senate tied.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the Vice President can cast the deciding
vote in the U.S. Senate in case of a tie.
This led Republican leaders to make sure enough Republicans voted for
the nomination to assure passage. "We sure weren't going to let him
come riding in on a horse to save the day," one senior Republican
staff aide said.
Reid's work in getting the nomination past the Senate was crucial.
According to Reid, he was to "play the Mormon card but also the
Hispanic card, the fairness card and any other card I could think
of." He had even asked Mrs. Paez to come to Washington to lobby for
her son, "But she's kind of ailing," Mr. Reid said. "So she asked me
But Reid refused to take much credit for getting the nomination
through the Senate. When he telephoned Judge Paez to congratulate
him, he said, "Your mother really helped do this."