- The Washington Times - Friday, July 21, 2000

A key Republican senator criticized President Clinton and members of the House Black Caucus Thursday for calling the Senate a racist and sexist institution for refusing to confirm minority judicial nominees.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the accusations were false and malicious.
"What a truly defamatory statement," Mr. Hatch said.
"Are my colleagues so desperate to find issues with which they can generate voter turnout in November that the politics of destruction must be waged in this manner, and assail not only the members of the Senate, but also our noble institution?"
The Black Caucus on Wednesday criticized the Republican-controlled Senate during a Capitol Hill press conference, accusing members of blocking Mr. Clinton's minority and female appointees.
"I'm saddened to make these accusations, but I will make them," said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat. "The United States Senate has acted racistly and with sexism."
Mr. Clinton suggested the Senate was biased during a speech last week at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's annual convention.
"I do not want people denied their chance to serve because of their race," Mr. Clinton said.
Mr. Hatch said race and ethnicity are not questions included on applications nominees provide for the committee, so the members have no way of knowing which nominees fall under a minority category.
However, he said information provided to him by the Justice Department shows Mr. Clinton has nominated 101 individuals for federal judgeships since taking office in 1993. The Senate has confirmed 59 percent of all minority nominees, 65 percent of all female nominees and 64 percent of all white male nominees.
Thursday, the committee moved the nomination of Johnnie Rawlinson, who is black, to the appellate court.
Since Mr. Clinton has taken office, 368 federal judges have been confirmed and 31 remain pending in committee, a judiciary committee spokeswoman said.
"I call on President Clinton and Al Gore to put an end to this game of race-baiting politics," Mr. Hatch said.
"The calculated statements of President Clinton plainly are meant to suggest or imply that Senate Republicans are biased against the confirmation of female and minority judicial nominees," Mr. Hatch said.
The White House did not return a call for comment.
"His suggestions have been picked up by less-sophisticated partisans who have turned them into blatant attacks," he said.
The caucus is pressuring the committee to act on three federal appellate nominations: James Wynn Jr. of North Carolina, Kathleen McRee of Michigan, and Roger Gregory of Virginia, before the end of the session. They also want three district judges approved: Legrome Davis of Pennsylvania, Rhonda Fields of Washington and Ken Simon of Alabama.
Black Caucus members said their numbers show 18 percent of black nominees confirmed by the committee compared to 42 percent of white nominees. They did not cite the source of those numbers, but said the figures are only through November last year.
"The proof is in the data," said Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Democratic delegate from the District of Columbia.
"We're not here making racial accusations for things we have not proved," Mrs. Norton said.
This isn't the first time the Black Caucus has accused Senate Republicans of racism. Last fall, the committee approved the judicial nomination of Ronnie White, who is black. However, his nomination was scuttled by the full Senate.
Black House members said that rejection was based solely on Mr. White's race, but Republicans said they voted against him because Mr. White is against the death penalty.
"Many of my Republican colleagues were unaware of Judge White's race," Mr. Hatch said after Mr. White's nomination was defeated.
"It was not race that defeated Judge White it was his record and the opposition of the elected leaders of his state."

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