- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Senate Republicans said yesterday that the internal memos written by Democratic judiciary panel staffers prove what’s been said for years: Committee Democrats work at the behest of interest groups such as People for the American Way and those supporting abortion rights.

“Many of us have said over and over again that the Democrats are increasingly the party of special interests,” said Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican and his party’s conference chairman. “If anybody has any questions about who’s really controlling their party agenda, it’s pretty clear that they get their marching orders from these special interest groups.”

In a June 12, 2002, memo to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, staffers wrote: “[I]t appears the groups are willing to let [judicial nominee Tim] Tymkovich go through (the core of the coalition made that decision last night, but they are checking with the gay rights groups).”

In a Nov. 6, 2001, memo written to Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, a staffer reminded the senator of a 5 p.m. meeting scheduled with eight liberal special interest groups “to discuss their serious concerns with the judicial nomination process.”

“The groups would like to postpone action on these nominees until next year, when [presumably] the public will be more tolerant of partisan dissent,” the staffer wrote.

Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way, was among those included in the Nov. 6 meeting.

“We shared our analysis with The Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal three weeks before we met with Durbin,” Mr. Neas said. “This was not secret stuff.”

Mr. Neas called the Republican accusation “politics of intimidation and diversion” and vowed he would “not be “intimidated or diverted.”

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a prepared statement that the “memos, if accurate, document our long-standing concern that many Democrats are under the thumb of left-wing special interest groups.”

Specifically, Mr. Hatch referred to an April 17, 2002, memo in which Kennedy staffers recommended that a conservative nominee to the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals be stalled until after the court had ruled on the landmark University of Michigan affirmative-action case.

The staffers were “a little concerned about the propriety of scheduling hearings based on the resolution of a particular case,” they wrote in a memo that mentioned federal district Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, nominated by Mr. Bush to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. “Nevertheless we recommend that Gibbons be scheduled for a later hearing.”

Mr. Hatch said: “It appears that some have attempted to put their thumbs on the scales of justice.”

Kennedy spokesman David Smith said: “If you’re implying that a judicial nominee was deliberately held up to affect the outcome of a particular court case, then that’s patently false.”

Democrats have started an investigation into the documents they say were stolen. Democrats say they found the name of a Republican staffer, Manuel Miranda, at the bottom of e-mail that was included in documents posted on the Internet by the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary. Democrats said the staffer may have been involved in obtaining or distributing the documents.

Mr. Miranda, who works for Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, dismissed the concerns, saying that he had received the April 2 e-mail and shared it with Republican Judiciary staffers.

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