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
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
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
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.