From remarks by Attorney General Janet Reno at a press conference yesterday in Washington:

Q: The president had some pretty strong things to say about the rejection of Judge [Ronnie] White to the federal bench. Do you have any thoughts about it?

Janet Reno: I was bitterly disappointed, because I think it is so important that we encourage people like Judge White to think that they can rule as they see it based on the evidence and the law, that they can do their job the right way and that they will have other opportunities. He has, from what I have heard, a very fine record, and I'm just really, really concerned that we are not giving people such as Judge White the opportunity to serve on the federal bench, because I think they can bring tremendous perspective.

Q: Do you think he was turned down for racial reasons?

A: I think that issue has been raised and people have said that that is not the case. . . . I just think we have missed a wonderful opportunity to have a distinguished state court jurist serve on the federal bench.

Q: The president went beyond Judge White to suggest that a number of his judicial nominees have been delayed or . . . denied as a result of ethnic, racial and/or gender bias. . . . Is he right?

A: I'm not going to question the motivation of people. I just think it is important that everybody -- regardless of their race, their ethnic background, their gender -- have an opportunity to serve the American people in all positions of government.