- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003

Some Senate Republicans are growing frustrated with Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch after he again postponed last week the vote on President Bush’s nominee to the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals because of Democrats’ opposition to the nomination.

Mr. Bush nominated Michigan Judge Henry W. Saad to the federal appeals court nearly two years ago, and for the past several months, Mr. Hatch, Utah Republican, has negotiated with Democrats to find a compromise that would get Judge Saad confirmed.

Mr. Hatch has placed the judge on his committee’s agenda for a vote six times, but has each time postponed it at the last minute to appease Democrats.

Though no Republican senators have criticized Mr. Hatch openly, several committee staffers said patience is growing thin in the Republican ranks.

“There is a lot of frustration on our side,” said one committee staff member. “There’s really not any point in putting [Judge Saad] on the agenda if we don’t have the backbone to move him.”

Mr. Hatch often jokes about the difficult position he has, in which he must bridge the yawning ideological gap between left-leaning Democrats and right-leaning Republicans on his committee, which is a lightning rod for many of today’s most controversial issues, such as abortion.

“That’s nothing new,” he said last week of the carping from his own party. “I’ll always have that on my back.”

As for the Democrats on the committee, their problem isn’t necessarily with Judge Saad or the three other nominees from Michigan that they are holding up. Their opposition is over the treatment of several Clinton nominees to the same appellate court, who never got hearings.

The opposition comes at the behest of Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, who refuses to accept any of Mr. Bush’s nominees from his state until a seat on the federal appeals court is found for Michigan Appeals Court Judge Helene White, who was nominated by Mr. Clinton but never given a hearing by Republicans. Judge White is married to Mr. Levin’s cousin.

Mr. Hatch said he wants to “resolve this without poking anybody in the eye,” but some Republicans are not feeling so diplomatic.

“We’ve gone this route all year,” a Republican staffer said. “They just won’t negotiate. We should just move forward.”

Regarding the postponement of Judge Saad’s nomination Thursday, the staffer huffed: “How many people know what just happened in that committee room? Nobody. If they’re going to filibuster, make them do it on C-SPAN.”

The controversy over the judge’s nomination boiled to the surface earlier this month when Judge Saad wrote an e-mail criticizing Mr. Levin and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, and — supposedly by accident — sent the e-mail directly to Mrs. Stabenow.

Mr. Hatch was not pleased. Others, however, were delighted.

“The only mistake Saad made was not intentionally sending that e-mail to them,” said Manuel Miranda, who handles judicial nominations for Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican. “He merely explained the frustration of a nominee who has waited for two years to be confirmed and all the Michiganians who are frustrated with their senators’ obstructionism.”

Hatch defenders point out that the senator certainly has been willing to play hardball over some nominees.

This week, for example, Republicans plan to try forcing a vote by the full Senate on Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr., nominated to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Senator Hatch has his plate more than full with judges who have manufactured controversies around them,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and committee member. “He’s gotten a lot of these judges through.”Judge Pickering, now a federal district court judge in Mississippi, was defeated in committee last year by Democrats, and Mr. Hatch revived his nomination when Republicans took control. Some Democrats vow to filibuster the nomination.

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