- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales will not be filibustered, Senate lawmakers said yesterday.

Late in the day, Senate leaders agreed to vote on Mr. Gonzales’ final confirmation tomorrow evening after three days of floor debate. The agreement came despite unified Democratic opposition to Mr. Gonzales in the Senate Judiciary Committee last month , normally a clear signal that Democrats plan to filibuster a nominee.

Even as the hours of debate continued into yesterday evening, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed that President Bush’s nominee probably would be confirmed tomorrow as the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general with support from all 55 Republicans in the chamber and at least a handful of Democrats.

“Ultimately, Judge Gonzales will be confirmed in the Senate,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat and his party’s second in command.

The same green light should not be expected for Mr. Bush’s nominees to the federal bench who have been filibustered in the past, said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.

“If they bring back the same judges, we’re going to do the same thing,” Mr. Reid said of the filibusters against 10 Bush nominees. “We’re not going to cut and run.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, warned Democrats last month that if they plan to continue their filibusters against judicial nominees, Republicans will change Senate rules to bar filibusters against judicial nominees.

“If they’re waiting for us to back down,” Mr. Reid said of Mr. Frist’s threat, “this isn’t a time when I feel that I’m ready not to go behind the pool hall and see who wins this one.”

As for Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Durbin and other Democrats wanted a couple of days this week to vent their outrage at his nomination to the top law-enforcement post in the country. They accused the chief White House counsel of creating a culture in the administration that allowed for the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The chief exhibit against Mr. Gonzales is a memo written to him by an administration lawyer that opined about the legal standards for torture.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, worried that American soldiers might treat the terrorist and insurgent detainees in Iraq more harshly than they themselves would want to be treated if they were captured.

“Wouldn’t we consider these things torture if they’re being done to an American soldier or being done to an American citizen,” Mr. Leahy asked after listing several acts he said would be permitted under the Bush administration’s definition of torture. “How can we, the greatest nation on earth, stand up and say it’s not torture if we do it to somebody else?”

Democrats also worried that Mr. Gonzales — who served as general counsel to Mr. Bush when he was governor of Texas — would have a difficult time offering the independent legal opinions required of an attorney general.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, dismissed any such concern, pointing out that Mr. Specter had divergent views from the White House on affirmative action, parental notification for teenagers to get abortions, and immigration.


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