Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reid suggests Republican lawmakers for high court


Reid suggests Republican lawmakers for high court

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid suggested on Tuesday that four of his Republican colleagues be considered by President Bush if a vacancy occurs on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Seeking a possible consensus nominee, Reid recommended Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mel Martinez of Florida, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Reid described them all as bright and able lawyers who would be strong additions to the nation's highest court.

"We have had approximately 10 members of the Supreme Court that came from the United States Senate over the years," Reid told reporters.

"There are people who serve in the Senate now who are Republicans who I think would be outstanding Supreme Court members," Reid said.

There had been widespread speculation that a resignation could come soon on the Supreme Court. But uncertainty rose on Monday when the court ended its term for the year without any announced departures.

Still, court observers say there could be a resignation on the aging federal bench in the days, weeks or months ahead.

Reid, who has conferred with Senate Republican leader Bill Frist on the possibility of a Supreme Court opening, said he has made his suggestions to "anyone who will listen."

Reid and fellow Democrats have urged Bush to consult with them before making a nomination, which the Senate would then be asked to confirm.

Earlier on Tuesday, Frist said, "I've made some suggestions" to the White House on potential nominees, but declined to disclose names.

"They are reaching out for suggestions," Frist said after giving a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group. He added, "I don't have any inside information" about who the nominee could be.

Another senator who has been mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee is Republican John Cornyn of Texas, a former member of the Texas Supreme Court and the only senator with appellate court experience.

Asked if Bush should consider Cornyn, Reid shrugged and said, "I've told you (the ones) I think he should consider."

Graham and DeWine were among seven Senate Republicans who joined seven Senate Democrats in reaching a compromise last month on Bush's most contentious appeals court nominees.

The accord cleared the way for the confirmation of a number of Bush's nominees, but preserved the right of Democrats to block others "under extraordinary circumstances."

Cornyn was among those who have criticized the accord, which could face a major test with a Supreme Court nomination.