- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2001

Senate Democrats yesterday said they would apply a litmus test to President Bushs judicial nominees if they are allowed to have their way on demands of veto power for home-state senators.

"We don´t want right-wingers," said Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.

Democrats shut down the Senate confirmation process last week after walking out of a Judiciary Committee hearing and refusing to vote on two key Justice Department officials.

Republicans are steadfastly refusing to meet the Democrats´ demands that senators have a veto over judicial nominees from their home state, citing fears last week Democrats would veto nominees based on ideology rather than qualifications.

The comments of Democrats yesterday seemed to confirm those fears.

Mr. Daschle said he doesn´t want "extreme left-wingers," but judges who "demonstrate moderation."

"I want people who come from the middle," Mr. Daschle said on ABC´s "This Week."

"I want them to demonstrate the integrity, the diversity and the moderation that courts, I think, generally should demonstrate if they´re going to do their job correctly," he said.

Other prominent Democrats also said they would not support conservative judicial nominees. "We don´t want this to be a judiciary jammed and packed with people who´ve come out of the Federalist Society with extreme views," Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, said on Fox News Sunday.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Democrats weren´t looking for moderate judges during the Clinton era when 377 judges were approvedfive less than the record 382 judicial confirmations made during the Reagan administration.

"Pure ideological, single litmus-test reasons are not valid in my eyes," Mr. Hatch said.

"I think whoever is nominated by this administration´s going to go through hell because of these people," Mr. Hatch said on Fox News Sunday.

Democrats say Republicans enjoyed veto power during the Clinton administration, but Mr. Hatch said the procedure called "blue slips" only occurred when the president did not consult with senators from the home state of the nominee.

Mr. Bush is expected to send more than a dozen nominees to the Senate this week but was unaware of the consultation requirements. Mr. Hatch said he has explained the blue slips policy to the administration.

Mr. Hatch assured Democrats that consultation will occur in the future, however Democrats refuse to take his word for it.

Mr. Hatch said Democrats are intentionally delaying the confirmation process in the hopes they might soon regain control of the evenly split Senate.

"They´re hoping they´re going to get control if something happens to Senator Thurmond," Mr. Hatch said, referring to the 98-year-old South Carolinian.

Mr. Dodd, however, said their intention is to prevent "a large ideological shift in the federal judiciary" all lifetime appointees.

"They´re going to be there long after the president, long after Sen. Hatch and I are gone. And it better be balanced," Mr. Dodd said.

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