Clear Senate Panel
Senate Republicans forced committee approval of three of President Bush's judicial nominees yesterday, despite Democrats' efforts to delay action as they have delayed the high-profile nomination of Miguel Estrada to the federal appellate bench.
Democrats said Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) overrode committee rules to send U.S. Appeals Court nominees Deborah Cook and John Roberts to the Republican-controlled Senate, despite Democratic objections that they had the right to continue to hold the nominees in committee.
"We're not going to have filibusters in committee," said an often-angry Hatch at the end of a three-hour hearing in which he exchanged sharp words with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy ( D-Mass.). "You may bully some, but you're not going to bully me," Kennedy told him. Democrats at one point walked out to prevent Hatch from having enough members present to vote.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said Hatch is ignoring committee rules that require at least one Democrat to agree to forcing a vote on a nominee. Hatch said Senate parliamentarians informed him that as chairman he could force a vote on the president's nominees.
Later, Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) took the Senate floor and called Hatch's move a "reckless exercise of raw power" that could set a "terrible precedent" for the committee. Democratic anger over the maneuver could lead to another major fight when the nominations reach the full Senate for action.
Cook, an Ohio Supreme Court justice, was approved by the committee 12 to 2, with the rest of the Democrats not voting or voting "present" to preserve their right to bring the issue up on the Senate floor. Roberts, a Washington appellate lawyer, was approved by the 19-member committee 14 to 3 with the rest of the Democrats not voting or voting present.
The committee also sent the appellate court nomination of Justice Department lawyer Jay Bybee of Nevada to the Senate for confirmation 12 to 6, with Leahy again voting "present." Democrats had agreed earlier to allow his nomination through regardless of what happened with Cook and Roberts.
Group Fights Profiling
Of Arabs, Muslims, Asians
A leading civil rights group wants President Bush to ensure that Arabs and Muslims are not being unfairly singled out for scrutiny in the government's post-Sept. 11, 2001, fight against terrorism. In a letter Thursday to the president, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights said singling out people of Middle Eastern or South Asian ancestry is just as wrong as racial profiling directed against blacks and Hispanics. "Not all drug crimes are committed by African Americans and Hispanics, and, likewise, not all terrorism is committed by Arabs, Muslims or South Asians," the group wrote.
In February 2001, Bush called for an end to profiling on the basis of race. "It's wrong and we will end it in America," he told a joint session of Congress.
The request to Bush follows a report by the group, founded in 1950 by black and Jewish leaders, that said Arabs and Muslims have been singled out since Sept. 11, 2001.
-- From News Services
and Staff Reports