Reid recommends three GOP senators for Supreme Court
By MARGARET TALEV
June 28, 2005
WASHINGTON - Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said
Tuesday he is recommending at least three Republican
senators, all lawyers with anti-abortion records, as
nominees in the event of a Supreme Court vacancy.
Reid's remarks to reporters at the Capitol seemed to
catch a wide range of interests off guard, from
liberal and conservative social activists preparing to
campaign for or against potential nominees, to the
senators themselves - Mel Martinez of Florida, Mike
DeWine of Ohio and Mike Crapo of Idaho.
While Reid, D-Nev., opposes abortion, he represents a
party that supports what it considers a woman's
personal choice and aligns itself with activist
organizations that have made the upholding of Roe v
Wade a rallying cry when it comes to court nominees.
"There are people who serve in the Senate now, who are
Republicans, who I think would be outstanding Supreme
Court members," Reid said. "If you want names, I'll
give you names."
A Reid spokeswoman later confirmed the minority leader
was serious about endorsing those candidates.
The White House has not released a short list of
potential nominees, but the three senators Reid
mentioned are not among a dozen or so that insiders
believe the president is considering. Two who are -
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona - are
not men Reid has said he would support. Other
potential nominees include sitting judges and private
attorneys with government experience.
Martinez and DeWine represent swing states. DeWine
took heat from conservatives last month for joining a
bipartisan group of 14 senators that preserved
Democrats' right to filibuster judicial nominees in
"extraordinary" cases in exchange for confirming
several contested appellate bench nominees. It was not
immediately clear how the senators might handle
abortion in a judicial, rather than a political,
It also was unclear whether Reid expected the names he
floated to get any traction; whether he considers them
more ideologically liberal than others Bush might
favor; or if he simply was making a gesture to show
Democrats want to find a middle ground.
There is no vacancy yet on the nine-member court, but
some court watchers expect at least one justice to
step down as soon as this summer - Chief Justice
William Rehnquist, who has cancer, or possibly Sandra
Day O'Connor or John Paul Stevens. No resignations
were announced on Monday, when the court adjourned
"My first reaction is they're known as pretty
conservative in their voting records," said Gary Marx
of the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative
group, said of Reid's recommendations. Marx predicted
liberal activists would not embrace the senators.
"This would be the greatest betrayal of their minority
leader to his base, if he would support any of them,"
Representatives for two of the leading liberal groups,
the Alliance for Justice and People for the American
Way, did not immediately respond.
DeWine press secretary Jeff Sadosky said the senator
"thoroughly enjoys serving as senator from Ohio and
plans to run for re-election, and has no interest in
the Supreme Court position whatsoever." A Crapo
spokeswoman said the high court was "not something
that he has considered" but that he was "honored that
Senator Reid would think so highly of him." Martinez's
office did not release a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Tuesday he
would consider cutting short senators' month-long
August recess to expedite confirmation hearings, if a
vacancy occurs and the president wants to move
quickly. Frist said he's been advised by experts not
to allow "a lot of dead time" because it "will be
filled either with an attack that can't be defended or
by the outside airwaves."