THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE is scheduled to vote soon on the nominations of Rep. Abner J. Mikva and Assistant Attorney General Patricia M. Wald to be judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals here. Despite the opposition that has been raised to both, the committee shold have no qualms about approving these nominations and sending them on to the full Senate.
According to those close to the committee, the opposition to Rep. Mikva - led by the National Rifle Association, who else? - has had practically no impact. The NRA thinks Mr. Mikva is unfit to be a judge because he has been a staunch advocate of gun-control legislation. In support of his own integrity and his contention that advocacy on one issue as a legislator has nothing to do with how he will vote on that and other issues as a judge, Rep. Mikva has been able to trot out two politically powerful colleagues, the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House.
Mrs. Wald, unfortunately, has been subjected to a much more serious attack and has no such politically strong allies. The charge against her is that she is an extremist on such things as the rights of children and drug-control laws. These charges, and material said to support them, have been circulated to newspapers all over the country and some papers have taken the bait.
The most remarkable aspect of this campaign against Mrs. Wald is that Sen. Gordon J. Humphrey of New Hampshire, her chief antagonist, claims to have found in her background leanings that those who know her best - the lawyers and judges of the District of Columbia - insist are not there. Some of the views she has expressed in articles and speeches on children's rights are controversial but hardly outside the realm of legitimate argument. Others are views to which she has not clearly subscribed, but which she has thrown out for discussion. And what she has said about drug abuse is almost identical with what scores of other thoughtful students of the drug laws have concluded.
Mrs. Wald deserves better than the shabby treatment she has received so far in the Judiciary Committee. Her record of public service in this community over the past two decades has been outstanding. It is a shame to have it kicked around now because she has been willing to get involved and talk freely about controversial subjects. The rejection of her nomination on this ground would be an indication to lawyers that it is better to sit in an office and make money, if you want to be a judge, than to try to stimulate people to think about subjects on which the law is changing.