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Senators Delay Vote on Ex-Aide to Thurmond

October 17, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Republicans failed to get the Senate to confirm retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond's former aide to the federal bench, as the year-end rush began to try to get dozens of nominations approved.

At the end of each congressional session, presidential nominees who have not been confirmed have their names sent back to the White House and have to begin again. If that happens, it is not guaranteed that the president will renominate the person.

Republicans want to ensure that U.S. District Judge Dennis Shedd of South Carolina, nominated to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., doesn't have that problem.

Thurmond ends a nearly half-century career in the Senate in January and said he was promised that Shedd would be given a vote.

But Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) delayed a committee vote Wednesday, saying there was opposition to Shedd's nomination in South Carolina. Civil rights groups say his judicial opinions show a "disregard for laws protecting the disabled" and "a high level of insensitivity on issues of race."

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) called on the Senate to pull the nomination out of committee and bring it directly to a floor vote. Shedd likely would pass a Senate floor vote, supporters said.

"I feel so strongly about the unfairness of the treatment of this nominee and the way it was reflected on Sen. Thurmond that I have to take action," Lott said.

But Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) blocked the maneuver, saying the practice has always been to require a committee vote before a full Senate vote. He also would not guarantee that Shedd would get a committee vote before the chamber's session ends.

The battle over Bush's judicial candidates has blocked other nominees from getting confirmed. Ambassadorships, board appointments, and lower-level department officials tend to collect on the Senate schedule, then typically all nominees are approved at the end of the year.

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