- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

Key Senate Republicans yesterday called for a vote on the U.S. Circuit Court nomination of District Judge D. Brooks Smith, calling feminists' charges of sexism unjustified and accusing Democrats of sitting on the nomination.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said the conservative ideology of Judge Smith is being "overblown" and called on Democratic leaders to schedule a vote.

"We have a kind of nasty thing going on in Washington right now, and that is we have a number of left-wing groups who are very disappointed that they have a Republican president, who naturally is going to nominate more moderates and conservatives as judges," Mr. Hatch said.

"I think the ideology of the judges is way overblown. Good district judges are going to abide by the rule of law," Mr. Hatch said.

Judge Smith was nominated by President Bush on Sept. 10 to serve on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and is rated well-qualified by the American Bar Association.

Mr. Hatch and Pennsylvania's two Republican senators Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum made their pleas during a Capitol Hill news conference. They were joined by a group of Pennsylvania women and lawyers, mostly Democrats, who criticized the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization for Women for opposing the nomination.

The women attending yesterday's event represented the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Women's Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania.

Judge Smith once belonged to the men-only Spruce Creek Rod and Gun Club. Former President Carter also belonged to the club and wrote fondly of it in his memoirs.

The membership makes Judge Smith "unfit to serve as a federal appellate judge," said Kathy Miller, NOW Pennsylvania chapter president.

Blair County Commissioner Donna Gority and a state NOW member said at yesterday's news conference that she is "extremely frustrated and upset" with her organization's stance on Judge Smith.

"It's time to stop the cycle of partisan political rancor," Miss Gority said.

"NOW's criticism simply does not pass the laugh test," said Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America.

The Judiciary Committee held Judge Smith's nomination hearing Feb. 26. A spokesman for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and committee chairman, said the nomination is proceeding and a committee vote will be held, though a date has not been set.

"There has been no delay, and there has been no intention for delay," said David Carle, Leahy spokesman. "Democrats have no intention of following the Republican practice of holding hearings on some nominees and then never giving them a committee vote."

Panel members have been told to expedite their review of Judge Smith's record and unpublished opinions and are "well along" in their review, Mr. Carle said.

"When committee members are satisfied their questions have been answered, Sen. Leahy will promptly bring the nomination to a committee vote," Mr. Carle said.

President Bush has submitted 29 circuit court nominations to the Democrat-controlled Senate; nine have been approved in 10 months. During the first two years of the Clinton administration, 22 nominees were submitted and 19 approved. In the same period of President George Bush's administration, 22 out of 23 nominees were confirmed, and the Reagan administration saw 19 of 20 confirmed.

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