WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) said Friday that he will press for a vote as early as Tuesday on the nominations of William H. Rehnquist to be the next Supreme Court chief justice and Antonin Scalia to be an associate justice.
Dole said that liberal attacks on Rehnquist's integrity were full of "hot air" and indicated that he would move to shut off debate if Democratic opponents did not agree to do so voluntarily by Tuesday. But Minority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) denied that Democrats were trying to filibuster the Rehnquist nomination and said he would be willing to discuss the possibility of setting a voting time.
As the Senate entered its second day of deliberations on the Rehnquist nomination, California Democrat Alan Cranston dismissed President Reagan's nominee, an associate justice on the high court since 1971, as "an extreme ideologue" committed to supporting segregation, fighting women's rights and "willing to cut corners with the truth to serve that agenda."
Cranston Sees Slander
In addition, Cranston accused Rehnquist of slandering former Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, for whom Rehnquist worked as a law clerk in 1952, during recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
During Rehnquist's confirmation hearings, committee members questioned him about a memo he wrote as a clerk defending the constitutional basis for school segregation. Rehnquist told the panel he was expressing the views of Jackson. The late justice, however, voted in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case to end legalized segregation in schools.
Cranston said he knew Jackson personally during the 1940s when the judge was U.S. attorney general and could not believe that Jackson would endorse racial discrimination. "For Mr. Rehnquist to attribute such views to Justice Jackson, who gave him the opportunity to serve him on the Supreme Court, is shocking, to put it mildly," Cranston said. "I deem the charge a slander on the record of a great justice."
Rising to Rehnquist's defense, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said critics had distorted Rehnquist's testimony and pointed out that he had voted at least 34 times to uphold aspects of the Brown ruling since being appointed to the court by former President Richard M. Nixon. "It's really incredible, the efforts put forth to malign and, let's face it, smear this man's reputation," Hatch said.
Despite the controversy, Rehnquist's nomination almost certainly will be approved. Critics of the appointment acknowledge that they have only 20 to 25 solid votes, far short of the number they would need to block it. Although Scalia is a staunch conservative, his nomination has received little opposition and should be approved quickly once the Rehnquist vote is completed.