- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2000

Above the law?

U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter once helped speed a lawsuit with political implications through New Hampshire's highest court. But lawmakers investigating charges of favoritism have no plans to question him, the Associated Press reports.

Justice Souter served on the New Hampshire state Supreme Court from 1983 until he was appointed to the federal bench in 1990. Ten years later, state lawmakers have learned he played a significant role in a 1987 case at the center of their impeachment inquiry into three current justices.

Despite that, the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee voted Friday not to subpoena Justice Souter or invite him to testify.

"It would be a good show, but other than accomplishing that, I'd see nothing to gain from it," said chairman Henry Mock, a Republican.

A criminal investigation in March led to the resignation of one justice and prompted the committee's impeachment inquiry, which has focused on the case and on judges failing to report purported ethics violations by colleagues.

The case was a contract dispute between two fuel companies, one owned by Edward Dupont, then majority leader of the state Senate. Lawmakers have focused on it because of allegations that Chief Justice David Brock called a lower-court judge, Douglas Gray, to remind him of Mr. Dupont's powerful position.

Judge Gray and another Superior Court judge, Kenneth McHugh, both had rulings in the case overturned by the state Supreme Court. They told the committee this month that the speed with which the high court handled the case made them suspect Mr. Dupont got special treatment.

Judge Gray ruled against Mr. Dupont in March 1987. Justice Souter drew at random the job of evaluating Mr. Dupont's appeal. He eventually wrote the relatively speedy November 1987 opinion that partially overturned Judge Gray's ruling.

Justice Souter is the only justice from 1987 who has not testified before the committee. He has repeatedly declined to comment on the investigation.

Underground campaign

Allies of Ross Perot have been waging an underground campaign to get him on the Reform Party ballot, www.Salon.com reports.

The effort is led by Ira Goodman, former chairman of the New Jersey state party who resigned in protest after Pat Buchanan took over the party earlier this month. The anti-Buchananites even have a secret Web site, the Internet magazine said.

Salon's Anthony York spoke to people within the underground campaign, including Reform Party spokeswoman Donna Donovan, who confirmed that a group working to get Mr. Perot on the ballot should be making an announcement by tomorrow. "The Buchanans are right to be worried," she said.

Dumb-o question

In the name-dropping contest to be Mr. Prosperity, Al Gore has linked himself to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

But Dumbo?

The vice president, speaking to a White House conference on "community empowerment," recalled referencing the Walt Disney story "very important to me when I was real little" during an empowerment-zone policy meeting with Mr. Rubin, who often is chided for a shaky command of popular culture, according to the Associated Press.

"I was trying to make the point that if the community just did it on its own, it could happen," Mr. Gore said. Just like "Dumbo, the elephant, who had a magic feather and could fly with that magic feather."

"It took a crisis before Dumbo figured out that he didn't really need the magic feather, he could fly without it," Mr. Gore continued.

"And Bob Rubin looked up at me and said, 'Who's Dumbo?' "

Latest example

"Rep. Rick Lazio's support for a federal hate-crimes bill is the latest but far from the only example of the Republican Senate candidate lining up with Democrats," the New York Post reports.

"An analysis of Lazio's voting record over the past two weeks shows the Long Island lawmaker voted against the GOP leadership more than half the time on partisan votes from June 12 through 23," reporter Vincent Morris said.

Abortion politics

The U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of Nebraska's ban on partial-birth abortion was a legal defeat but not necessarily a political one for the state's attorney general, who has built his Senate campaign around his defense of the law, the Associated Press reports. However, his Democratic opponent also is a foe of partial-birth abortion.

Attorney General Don Stenberg, a conservative Republican, argued the abortion case in front of the high court in April two weeks before soundly winning Nebraska's Republican primary and often has pointed that out in his campaign advertisements and speeches.

"This negative decision may have a positive payoff in that it might energize his conservative Christian support to elect him all the more," said John Comer, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Mr. Stenberg is up against Ben Nelson, a conservative Democrat who left the governor's office in 1999 with an 80 percent approval rating. The two candidates are seeking the seat being vacated by Democrat Bob Kerrey.

"I am pro-life, and as governor I signed the bill into law," Mr. Nelson said, referring to the ban. "I abhor the procedure and hope the Legislature will go back and make the changes needed to make the ban work in Nebraska."

Convention march

The national gun-control group Silent March plans to make its message about gun violence in America heard loud and clear during next month's Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

So the New York-based grass-roots organization, which uses massive displays of empty shoes known as "silent marches" to symbolize the victims of gun violence, will start its first advertising campaign with a series of print ads that will appear on 100 city buses and 50 subway trains during the convention, Reuters reports.

The ads will promote a pair of silent marches slated to be held near the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall two days before the Republican convention opens its doors July 31.

Memorable grilling

Vice President Al Gore's memory failed him at least 85 times in sworn testimony to the FBI, reports www.WorldNetDaily.com.

Mr. Gore suffered a memory blank an average of once every three minutes during recent FBI grilling over his role in various campaign-finance scandals, a computer-aided analysis of his four-hour testimony showed.

Neither Mr. Gore's White House office nor his Nashville, Tenn., campaign office cared to comment, reporter Paul Sperry said.

The April 18 transcripts, released late Friday, show that Mr. Gore answered "I have no recollection" or "I have no independent recollection" at least 30 times; "I can't recall" or "I don't recall" at least 22; "I can't remember," "I don't remember" or "I'm not remembering" at least 23.

Mr. Gore also said at least one of the following 10 times: "I have no memory," "I have no independent memory," "I have no special memory," "I don't have a memory of it," or "I have a vague memory."

Good news, bad news

After Utah Rep. Merrill Cook lost the Republican primary Tuesday, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee rushed out a statement to reassure anyone who fears the party is in danger of losing a seat.

"The bad news is a Republican incumbent lost," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, NRCC chairman. "The good news is we have a strong nominee in this seat for the fall."

Mr. Cook lost to businessman Derek Smith, 59 percent to 41 percent in the heavily Republican district.

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