Clinton Bench Appointments on Hold: `Liberal Activism' Worries Senators

Article excerpt

The Republican-dominated Senate, worried that President Clinton is filling the federal courts with "liberal activist" judges, took no action on his eight pending appellate nominations before recessing.

"There was concern about pushing through all these liberal, leftist judges," a senior GOP Senate aide said. Consequently, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott deferred action until after the summer recess.

Many GOP senators requested the delay after reading a new report that highlighted decisions by 17 Clinton appointees.

Mr. Clinton is "building a legacy of judicial activism" by appointing judges who "decide cases politically," rather than by the law, said the study by the Free Congress Foundation's Judicial Monitoring Selection Project.

The Judicial Selection Monitoring Project was supported by more than 70 conservative pro-family and legal organizations, including the American Conservative Union, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, the Christian Coalition and the Eagle Forum.

"A review of actual decisions by Clinton judges reveals them to be aggressively activist," or "willing to give the Constitution" or federal laws "any meaning they choose," said the report, written by Thomas L. Jipping, project director.

Republicans attacked Mr. Clinton for choosing "liberal" judges after U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer Jr. of New York, a Clinton appointee, threw out a car trunk full of drugs as evidence against an admitted drug courier. Judge Baer reversed himself April 1.

The Jipping report highlights other contested rulings by federal judges appointed by Mr. Clinton.

"The pattern is clear. Bill Clinton - I believe intentionally - has been appointing liberal and activist judges to the bench," Mr. Jipping said in an interview.

The report differs from one released earlier this year by the Alliance for Justice, an organization that strongly opposed the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Robert Bork in 1987.

It found that the federal bench is still dominated by judges named by President Reagan and President Bush. Mike Lee, an Alliance law fellow, added, "In my opinion, Clinton has appointed incredibly mainstream folk as judges."

Mr. Jipping, however, said Mr. Clinton is fast changing the judicial face of the federal court. …