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Speaker Wright Advises Rational Court Nomination

November 09, 1987|CLAUDIA LUTHER | Times Political Writer

House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Texas) said Sunday in Orange County that he hoped "calmer, saner heads might prevail" as President Reagan selects a new U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

"It's only if the President is determined to be confrontational and try to cram down the throat of Congress someone of extreme far-out ideological rigidity, such as each of the last two, that he would encounter difficulty," Wright said in an interview after appearing on the Rev. Robert Schuller's "Hour of Power" telecast in the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.

Douglas H. Ginsburg, Reagan's nominee following the Senate's rejection of Judge Robert H. Bork last month, withdrew his name from consideration Saturday, saying there could be no reasoned discussion of his view of the law in the face of the "clamor" over admissions that he had smoked marijuana while a law school professor.

Speculation on the next nominee has centered on federal appeals court Judge Anthony M. Kennedy of Sacramento. Wright said he did not know Kennedy and had no advice as to whether he should be nominated.

Wright, 64, made his comments after he talked at two morning church services in which he steered clear of partisan politics, for the most part, and talked of his views on world peace and his Texas-small-town upbringing.

He said he agreed to appear on the interview segment of Schuller's "Hour of Power" because he has long admired Schuller. The program will be aired Nov 29.

"I've followed your career," Wright told Schuller before nearly 3,000 people in the Garden Grove church whose services are telecast nationwide. "What you've built here has been an inspiration to me."

Wright is a former Sunday school teacher and for several years before he went to Congress preached as a layman at a Presbyterian church in Granbury, Tex. On the floor of the House, where he has a reputation as a fiery orator, he quotes the Scriptures on almost any occasion, and at great length.

Wright said he agreed to appear on "Hour of Power" when he met with Schuller several weeks ago in Washington. He follows in the footsteps of many political figures, ranging from Republicans Robert and Elizabeth Dole to Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.

"But I never did invite Tip O'Neill," Schuller joked, referring to Wright's Catholic predecessor in the House of Representatives.

The Speaker chatted with Schuller before a huge setting of Bethlehem, complete with an indigo starry night and mountains, being built for the church's Christmas program.

Wright told the story of his visit to the Soviet Union, during which he met with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev for 2 1/2 hours. Wright said he was invited by Gorbachev to speak directly to the Russian people on television.

As a result, he said, he got 3,000 letters from Soviet citizens. One of them included a schoolboy's drawing of a Soviet bomber over New York City. But its cargo, instead of bombs, was "flowers, candy, toys and gifts."

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