- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Liberal groups are working to derail the nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, who faces a rocky reception from Democrats today at her confirmation hearing for a spot on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
For a week leading up to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, pro-choice activists, environmentalists and others have waged a daily campaign to discredit the justice, who they say is too conservative and pro-life to receive the lifetime appointment.
"Owen's record clearly demonstrates that she falls far short of President Bush's asserted goal of appointing judges who will make the law, not interpret it," said Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, in a letter to the committee.
Kay Daly, president of Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, called the tactics "political profiling."
Mrs. Daly said she is hopeful some Democratic senators will be open-minded about Justice Owen's nomination.
"It depends on whether or not these senators on the Democratic side are going to bow to the whims of left-wing organizations or be open-minded and understand these nominees will apply the law. Unless they fear the law, they have nothing to fear," Mrs. Daly said.
Some groups also are demanding that a second hearing be held for District Judge Dennis Shedd of South Carolina, who is backed for a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican.
Alliance for Justice wants all of Judge Shedd's rulings, published and unpublished, reviewed and another hearing held.
"Judge Shedd's record raises serious questions about competence and commitment to the role of the federal judiciary as guarantor of equal access to justice," it said.
Mr. Thurmond said Judge Shedd, a former committee counsel and staff director, has acted "promptly, professionally and in good faith in his dealings with the committee."
"His record is probably as complete as any other circuit nominee we have ever had before the committee, and en with that, he continues to answer written questions from committee members," Mr. Thurmond said in a letter to committee Chairman Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat.
"There is simply no justifiable basis for the committee to take the extraordinary step of holding a second hearing on this nominee," Mr. Thurmond said.
A committee spokeswoman said yesterday that "there are no plans at this time to hold a second hearing."
The second hearing request by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Alliance for Justice "is a sign of desperation," said John A. Nowacki, legal policy director for the Free Congress Foundation.
"Fourteen months is plenty of time to examine his record, and the Judiciary Committee shouldn't be a proxy for groups wanting a second chance at borking him. Shedd is well qualified for the 4th Circuit, and after all this time, he deserves a confirmation vote before the Senate goes on vacation," Mr. Nowacki said.
The confirmation process is running at a snail's pace in the Senate, where nine circuit judges have been confirmed by the full Senate, and nominees are awaiting Senate action.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, tentatively agreed to hold votes on judges in exchange for Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, releasing his hold on the nomination of Jonathan Adelstein, an aide to Mr. Daschle, for the Federal Communications Commission.

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