(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy is urging President Bush to choose a moderate candidate if a vacancy occurs in the near future on the United States Supreme Court. Leahy is the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He’s written two letters to Bush asking for a judiciary candidate who would garner support from most of the U.S. Senate.
Leahy has helped block several of the president’s more controversial nominations to the federal bench. He hopes that Bush doesn’t select “a conservative ideologue” if a vacancy on the Supreme Court opens this summer:
(Leahy) “The president said throughout his campaign that he wanted to be a uniter not a divider. On so many of the nominees he’s sent up here he’s sent up people who divide us and not unite us. And the courts, the federal judiciary, should always be non-political. It should be a unifying factor in our country, not a dividing factor.”
(Host) Leahy says the president will have an opportunity with this nomination, whenever it occurs, to strengthen the Court:
(Leahy) “I think it would be a terrible tragedy and I think it would be a real abuse of presidential power if he were to send up somebody who’s only going to make it through by one vote or two votes. All that does is detract from the credibility of the Supreme Court.”
(Host) There is speculation in Washington that either Chief Justice William Rehnquist or Justice Sandra Day O’Connor may retire in the coming months. Their retirement would allow Bush to make a Supreme Court appointment before the 2004 presidential campaign gets underway.