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Posted 23 May 2001   For week ended May 18, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 23May01

By Vickie Speek

Hatch Still Involved in Battle Over Judicial Appointees

WASHINGTON, DC -- Four years ago the Senate Judiciary Committee found itself deadlocked over one of President Clinton's nominees to the Justice Department. In an attempt at levity, the committee's ranking Democrat and Grateful Dead fan, Patrick Leahy, sent the chairman, Orrin Hatch, a Jerry Garcia tie. In turn, Hatch - a staunch Republican conservative - sent Leahy a Rush Limbaugh tie.

But Hatch and Leahy may need more than necktie diplomacy to get them through the latest storm gathering at the Senate's most volatile committee. The two men are major players in a game of "turn around" as a Republican administration now tries to fill 101 vacancies on the federal judiciary.

That's enough lifetime appointments to the bench to shift the balance on every important or contentious social issue in the United States. The nominees will help settle issues such as civil rights, abortion, public education, taxes, and environmental protection for a generation to come.

The political stakes will be high as the nominees come before the committee over the next several months and each party looks for gain. But Hatch's role has changed with the new administration. Now he is promoting Republican appointees instead of fighting Democratic ones.

The key sticking point in the committee, for the moment, is whether or not senators can approve judicial nominees from their own home states. Democrats, noting that GOP senators routinely stalled Clinton's nominees during the last administration, insist they have such sign-off authority. Hatch says he'll continue with the process if only one senator, say, a Republican, gives his or her approval.

Hatch and Leahy are among the most seasoned lawmakers on Capitol Hill and have a record of reaching across the aisle to get things done. "We agree to disagree," says Hatch. "That's why, year after year, we still get a lot done in this committee."


Deft game of "name that judge"
Christian Science Monitor 15May01 T2
By Gail Russell Chaddock: Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Two Senate warriors square off over Bush's nominees to US courts.


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