- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2002

The Senate last night approved the federal judgeship nomination of Sen. Strom Thurmond's former chief of staff, prompting the 99-year-old senator to make the final floor speech of his 48-year Senate career, which received a standing ovation.
By a vote of 55-44, the Senate approved the nomination of District Judge Dennis Shedd to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Judge Shedd is a man of great character," Mr. Thurmond said last night from the Senate floor, where he had once filibustered for days on end.
The retiring South Carolina Republican said Judge Shedd is "committed to upholding the rights of all people under the Constitution and he will serve the people of the 4th Circuit with distinction."
The speech won a standing ovation from the other senators, and a departing Mr. Thurmond gave a smile and one last wave to his colleagues.
A Senate Democratic aide said Democrats did not try to block or delay the nomination once it became clear that "this guy was going to go through."
The 4th Circuit includes South Carolina, and Judge Shedd was Mr. Thurmond's chief of staff when Mr. Thurmond was Judiciary Committee chairman.
President Bush nominated Judge Shedd to the circuit court position on May 9, 2001.
The Senate Judiciary Committee traditionally approves former staffers and nominees supported by former chairmen, but Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, took the Shedd nomination off the committee agenda last month, angering Republicans, who called it a direct insult to Mr. Thurmond.
During floor debate on the Shedd nomination Monday, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said senators expect traditional courteous treatment of former aides who are nominated.
"I certainly take it very personally, and I know that Senator Thurmond does, too, that we've not done so in the case of Dennis Shedd," Mr. Hatch said.
Mr. Leahy said Monday he always intended to bring the nomination before the committee and delayed it in October only because he knew it would spark debate that would have held up action on 17 other nominations. The committee approved the Shedd nomination last week.
Democrats and interest groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, say Judge Shedd has a poor record on civil rights issues and rarely sides with those claiming to be victims of employment discrimination.
Mr. Hatch dismissed what he called distortions of Judge Shedd's record. "Judge Shedd is known for his fairness," he said.
The support of Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, was also key to passing Judge Shedd's nomination.
Backing Judge Shedd were 48 Republicans and seven Democrats; opposing him were 42 Democrats and two independents. Sen. Frank H. Murkowski, Alaska Republican, did not vote. The seven Democrats who broke with their party were Mr. Hollings, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Bob Graham of Florida, Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Zell Miller of Georgia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
With Judge Shedd's confirmation, the Senate will have confirmed 100 of the president's district and circuit court nominees out of 130. Mr. Bush has nominated 32 circuit court judges, and the Senate has confirmed 17. He has nominated 98 district court judges, and the Senate has confirmed 83.
In his first two years in office, President Clinton nominated 22 circuit judges, with 19 confirmed, and 119 district judges, with 108 confirmed. The first President Bush nominated 23 circuit judges, with 22 confirmed, and 52 district judges, with 48 confirmed. President Reagan nominated 20 circuit judges, with 19 confirmed, and 69 district judges, all of whom were confirmed.
Republicans take control of the Senate in January, and Mr. Hatch will become chairman of the Judiciary panel. Republicans are looking forward to quicker movement of the president's nominees.
"The president's nominees whether it's judge or any other position will get prompt hearings, fair hearings, and the Senate will vote," said Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican. "There will be some that I suspect will have Democrat opposition, but nevertheless they'll get voted on, on the Senate floor, as opposed to being held up for 20 months, 18 months."
On the campaign trail, Mr. Bush complained that his judicial nominees were being treated unfairly by Democrats.
"The election showed that Americans trust this president, including in his selection of judicial nominees," Mr. Hatch said.


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