Nomination must go before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Sun Staff


Chairman: Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania

Elected to a fifth term in November, Specter, 75, had to fight to win the committee gavel afterconservatives blasted him for his remarks that President Bush might have a hard timegetting anti-abortion judicial nominees through the Senate. He is scheduled to completetreatment for Hodgkin's disease Friday. A true moderate who has been through everySupreme Court nomination since 1981, Specter is still regarded with some suspicion byconservatives, who remember his role in the rejection of Robert H. Bork in 1987. Famouslyindependent-minded, he is a wild card in the nomination process.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah

Hatch, 71, was the committee's chairmanfor more than seven years beforebeing forced to step down byterm limits. A staunch conservative,he has been a strong proponent forallowing judicial nominees a straightup-or-down vote by the full Senate,even though he kept a number of nominees bottled up incommittee during the Clinton administration. He will be upfor re-election to a sixth term in 2006.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas

Elected in 2002,Cornyn is a formerTexas Supreme Courtjustice and attorneygeneral -- and wasmentioned as a possibleSupreme Court nominee. Cornyn, 53, hasbeen at the forefront of Republican efforts tostop filibusters of judicial nominations.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina

Graham, who won notoriety as one ofthe House floor managers for theClinton impeachment, was elected tothe Senate in 2002. Graham, 50, hasmade a point of reaching across theaisle to compromise -- most notablyas part of the "Gang of 14," seven senators from each partywho brokered a deal in late May to avoid a showdownover filibusters and judicial nominations. But his role drewcriticism from conservative interest groups and constituents,so he might feel pressure to toe the party lineduring a nomination fight.

Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas

Brownback, 48, waselected to a thirdterm in Novemberand joined the committeein January. Oneof the most avid prolifesenators -- whether the subject is humancloning or abortion rights -- he is also alawyer who asserts that Roe v. Wade was apoorly decided case from a purely legal standpoint.Considered a potential presidential candidatein 2008.

Other Republican members of the committee include Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio, another member of the "Gangof 14"; freshman Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, one of the Senate's most conservative members; Sen. CharlesE. Grassley of Iowa; Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona; and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a former U.S. attorney andstate attorney general.


Ranking member: Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont

The top Democrat on the committee, Leahy, 65, also served as chairman when Democratscontrolled the Senate from mid-2001 until early 2003. He and Specter have a strongworking relationship -- they are collaborating on legislation to establish a federal trustfund to compensate people sickened by asbestos -- but Leahy is a reliable Democraticvote. He was re-elected in November to a sixth term.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts

Elected to the Senate in1962, Kennedy is a leaderamong the liberal Democratsand has taken one ofthe hardest lines on what anacceptable replacement forJustice Sandra Day O'Connor should look andsound like. Kennedy, 73, ran for president in 1980and was chairman of the committee from 1979 to1981.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware

Biden, who said last monththat he intends to run forpresident in 2008, is a toughbut often garrulous questionerwho was elected tothe Senate in 1972. Hechaired the committee from 1987 to 1995 -- a periodthat included fights over Bork and JusticeClarence Thomas as well as the relatively smoothconfirmations of Justices Anthony M. Kennedy,David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg andStephen G. Breyer. Biden, 62, is a key player inthe continuing effort to block the confirmation ofJohn R. Bolton as U.N. ambassador until the White House hands over information requested by Democrats.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California

The first -- and only --woman on the committee,Feinstein, 72, hassaid that while it is importantto her that a womanreplace O'Connor, shehas other criteria as well. She is a strong supporterof abortion rights but is known to betough on crime and is working with Specter onthe renewal of the USA Patriot Act. Feinsteinwill be up for re-election to a fourth term nextyear; she has been on the committee sinceshe joined the Senate in 1992.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York

Probably the most outspokenDemocrat on the issueof judicial nominations,Schumer, 54, suggestedthat Bush convene a summitwith members of bothparties to discuss O'Connor's replacement.Schumer, who was elected to a second term in2004, has said that he is looking for a justice whowould interpret the law, not make it.

The other Democrats are Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's Democratic whip; and Sens. HerbertKohl and Russell D. Feingold, both of Wisconsin.

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