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Reagan Lauds Ginsburg as His Acts at OMB Draw Fire

November 01, 1987|JOHN M. BRODER and JAMES GERSTENZANG | Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — President Reagan urged the Senate on Saturday to act promptly to confirm his nomination of U.S. appeals court Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, calling him a jurist who will "protect the rights of all Americans," while a citizens group said Ginsburg's record stamps him as a foe of government regulation.

In his weekly radio talk, Reagan called on the Democrat-controlled Senate to "join with me in defending the integrity and independence of the American system of justice against the kind of campaign of pressure politics we saw during the consideration of Judge Robert Bork." Bork, Reagan's original nominee for the Supreme Court seat from which Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. has retired, was rejected by a 58-42 vote in the Senate.

"The way to show its determination to prevent such a campaign from happening again is for the Senate to insist that the Judiciary Committee hold hearings promptly. No delays to gear up opposition or support for this nomination--prompt hearings," Reagan said.

Although Reagan portrayed his 41-year-old nominee as a judge who will "interpret the laws, not make them," a study by OMB Watch, a nonprofit research group that monitors budget office activities, found that Ginsburg worked to politicize the government's regulatory processes when he was an official of the Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House. The five-year-old group, which took no position on the Bork nomination, is funded by donations, publications and grants, including one from the Ford Foundation.

At OMB, the study said, Ginsburg put all federal rules to the test of whether they were "consistent with the President's policies and priorities." At OMB and as head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, Ginsburg consistently emphasized self-regulation by industry and return to the private sector of numerous functions that have been assumed gradually by government, the group found.

After the President's broadcast, which was taped Friday in Washington before Reagan flew to Phoenix for the funeral of his mother-in-law, Edith Luckett Davis, a senior White House official said the Administration hoped that the full Senate would complete its work on the Ginsburg nomination before the Christmas recess. This timing would avoid an election-year battle, with its inevitably increased political overtones.

In Washington, White House officials met to devise a strategy that will serve the nominee better than the one used for the Bork nomination. A senior official who asked not to be identified said Saturday night that work had begun on preparation of the case but that no final decision had been reached on how to deal with questions that will be raised about Ginsburg's relative lack of judicial experience. He has served slightly less than a year on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Reagan presented Ginsburg as a law-and-order judge, saying during the radio talk: "Our courts must protect the rights of all Americans. And that includes the rights of the victims of crime and of society, not just of criminals. I believe that Judge Ginsburg will do just that."

The OMB Watch study maintained that Ginsburg's actions at OMB and Justice, and his writings on the subject of regulation, suggest that he fervently embraces a free-market ideology, an approach that made him attractive as a court nominee to Administration conservatives, including his chief sponsor for the high court, Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III.

Ginsburg was administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from July 15, 1984, to Aug. 31, 1985, when he was picked to head the antitrust division. Last October, Reagan nominated him to the Court of Appeals.

The OMB Watch study called attention to Ginsburg's issuance while at OMB of an executive order requiring all federal agencies to submit significant proposed regulations to Ginsburg's office for review. The basis of that review was to be not only the prior standard--whether the proposed rule was cost-effective--but also whether the regulation was consistent with Administration philosophy.

Under the order, Ginsburg challenged the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to regulate asbestos and thwarted the Public Health Service's proposal to study the effect of government cost-cutting on infant mortality rates, OMB Watch said.

The effect was to weaken the authority of government regulatory agencies and to strengthen the White House's ability to impose its policies on a broad range of government activities, OMB Watch contended in its six-page analysis of Ginsburg's views.

Ginsburg maintained in a newspaper opinion piece published in February, 1985: "By pre-screening regulations for consistency with Administration policy, we have made a good deal of progress in getting government regulation off the backs of the people."

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