"This is an ideological attack. There is no question about it," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), one of the Judiciary Committee's most influential conservatives. Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.), Manion's chief Senate supporter, added that Reagan "has the right to appoint judges who share his judicial philosophy."
Manion's conservative views became well known in Indiana during the 1970s, when he used to appear on "Manion Forum," politically oriented radio and television programs, with his father, Clarence Manion, a founder of the right-wing John Birch Society.
Biden and others denied that their objections were based on Manion's political views and noted that they had voted to approve some of Reagan's other conservative nominations.
Opponents nonetheless had suggested that Manion's conservatism could temper his willingness to conform his own judicial opinions with those of the Supreme Court.
They noted, for example, that as an Indiana state senator, Manion had sponsored a 1981 measure authorizing the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools only two months after the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down a similar Kentucky law. Manion also had endorsed literature that was harshly critical of the high court.
Testifying at his confirmation hearings, Manion distanced himself from those earlier stands and pledged to follow the Supreme Court's legal dictates.
Praise for Manion
Many lawyers and judges in Illinois and Indiana, including several political foes, have praised Manion as a competent lawyer who became a pawn in Senate politics.
Senators also hurled bitter criticism at each other during the debate. One target was Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.), who reportedly had expressed reservations to other senators about Manion's qualifications. Gorton decided to vote for Manion minutes before last month's vote, but only after receiving Reagan Administration assurances that it would proceed on a stalled Washington state judicial appointment being sought by Gorton.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) made indirect references to the incident as "a deplorable episode in the rule of law--the selling of the federal judiciary." Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) said the earlier vote had been "tainted by the open trading of judges."
Gorton insisted that he had been convinced that Manion was qualified and was only employing the common tactic of using his vote on a national issue as leverage to get the Administration to address a local concern. However, he acknowledged that he would not have nominated a man with similar qualifications for a judgeship in Washington state.
Several absences for the initial vote on Manion last month had cast doubt on the validity of its official 48-46 outcome. Several opponents of the nomination had agreed to withhold their votes to offset those of absentees they believed to be supporting Manion but later discovered to their dismay that those senators had actually claimed to be undecided.
Dole had threatened to postpone Wednesday's vote because he feared that the absence of Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), who was hospitalized unexpectedly early Wednesday morning, would mean defeat. However, Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) agreed to refrain from casting his planned negative vote, offsetting his fellow Arizonan's absence.
(Goldwater was admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital with abdominal pain, but tests found he only had indigestion and aides said he would be released today.)
A key vote toward providing a victory came from Sen. Daniel J. Evans (R-Wash.), who switched from his earlier opposition. Evans said he continued to have reservations about Manion's qualifications but did not believe the Senate should be reconsidering the vote it had already cast several weeks ago.