WASHINGTON — Two key Senate Democrats met with White House Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr. today in what was characterized as a "fruitful consultation" over the next nominee for the Supreme Court.
Baker met with Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) for 45 minutes in Byrd's Capitol office and discussed with them a list of 13 or 14 names the White House has under consideration for the high court, a committee spokesman said.
Baker, who brought the names to the Capitol in a bright red folder, said before the meeting that he was not discussing the candidates with the Democrats "to get their approval or disapproval."
None of the participants met with the press after the meeting, but committee spokesman Pete Smith said, "Sen. Biden described the meeting as a fruitful consultation."
Smith said some committee Democrats had problems with at least two potential nominees whose names have appeared in the press--federal appeals judges J. Clifford Wallace of San Diego and Pasco M. Bowman II of Kansas City, Mo. Both were perceived as "pretty ideological," he said.
Baker said before the session that he intended to go over the list of potential nominees and discuss each one "frankly and fully" with Byrd and Biden. He said President Reagan could decide on his Supreme Court nominee this week.
Before Baker arrived, Byrd called on Reagan to nominate a conservative but cautioned that a "lightning rod" candidate would draw the same opposition as Robert H. Bork, who was rejected for the high court 58 to 42 by the Senate last Friday.
Senate Republican leaders Monday let the White House know that four or five candidates on the list of potential nominees probably are not confirmable in the wake of Bork's defeat.
Only 3 to 5 Names
GOP senators have also proposed adding two names, including that of a woman, according to some of those who discussed the Administration's list Monday with Baker.
One of the Republicans, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, said Baker conveyed the impression that after meeting today with Democratic leaders he will propose only three to five names to Reagan as a successor to Bork.
"I hope it will be a conservative but not a lightning rod for attack," Byrd told reporters.
Baker submitted a similar list to Byrd and Biden when the Supreme Court vacancy first occurred, and it included Bork.