WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) said Sunday that he expects the Senate to vote this week on a controversial judicial nominee, Daniel A. Manion, and he predicted the South Bend, Ind., lawyer will be confirmed to a seat on the federal appeals court in Chicago in an extremely close vote.
"We will be successful on the Manion vote," Dole said, although "it's close--it's very close."
Dole, speaking on CBS Television's "Face the Nation," added: "I want to make certain everyone is in town--this is one of those votes where, if somebody breaks their leg on the way to the Senate floor, I'm going to have to have a postponement. It's that close."
Dole, who had earlier threatened to block a Senate vote on the nomination and allow Manion to take office automatically after the 99th Congress has adjourned, said Sunday that he now plans to bring the nomination before the Senate later this week.
Attacked by Democrats
"In my view, we ought to bring it up and dispose of it," he said.
Manion has been attacked by Senate Democrats for having taken extreme positions supporting the right-wing John Birch Society and for defying Supreme Court decisions. His appointment has been strenuously opposed by the 1,400-member Chicago Council of Lawyers, which has charged that Manion "would not be able to deal adequately with the difficult legal issues that are routinely presented" to the appeals court.
The American Bar Assn. has rated Manion "qualified," the lowest of three passing grades.
Many attorneys and judges in Indiana and Illinois have rallied to Manion's defense, saying he has behaved professionally and is the victim of a political battle in the Senate.
Dole accused Senate Democrats of trying to gain "political mileage" by fighting the Manion nomination.
'Shouldn't Be Close'
"It shouldn't be close--it ought to be a wide margin for Mr. Manion," Dole said. "But I think the stakes are not Mr. Manion. The stakes are who's going to control the Senate, and can the Democrats get any political mileage out of torpedoing some young man from Indiana because he's a small-town lawyer, even though he has a qualified recommendation from the American Bar Assn.?"
Meanwhile, on the subject of South Africa, Dole said President Reagan should not meet with representatives of the outlawed African National Congress--which is seeking to overthrow the government there--but suggested that some communication begin.
"I know there are some who would want no liaison with the ANC because of so-called, not only so-called, but Communist ties," Dole said. "But it would seem to me that we're not going to be able to resolve the serious problem there unless there is some dialogue."
Dole said he would make clear to Reagan today "that there is a lot of bipartisan concern" regarding Administration policy toward South Africa and his opposition to economic sanctions against that country.
Dole said he will probably decide "next March or April" whether he will run for President in 1988.
"I'm running for reelection this year. I have to be a good senator from my state and will be," he said.