Magazine article The American Prospect

Who's Who on the Senate Judiciary Committee

Magazine article The American Prospect

Who's Who on the Senate Judiciary Committee

Article excerpt


THE COMMITTEE CHAIR' Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

THE BIG GUNS: Joseph Biden of Delaware and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. Both Biden and Kennedy are powerful senators with the potential to play major roles, but each chairs another major committee and may be focusing his attention elsewhere.

THE OTHER LIBERALS: Charles Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois. Schumer will lead the liberal charge when Biden and Kennedy aren't around, and will try to use his place on the committee to keep from being upstaged by Hillary Clinton, the junior senator from his state. Durbin is an intelligent, aggressive questioner; he was one of the earliest Democrats to press Solicitor General Ted Olson during his nomination hearings. Leahy worked hard to get Durbin back on the committee after an absence.

THE REST OF THE TEAM: Dianne Feinstein of California, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, newcomer Maria Cantwell of Washington, and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin. All of these--with the occasional exception of Feingold--are loyal votes within the Democratic caucus. Feingold at times bucks the caucus with--depending on your point of view--his idealism or iconoclasm. But even Feingold, who voted for Attorney General John Ashcroft and other administration nominees, is likely to fall in step with his party against extremist judicial nominees, because he feels the standard of deference Bush should get for lifetime appointees is lower than for short-term political appointments.


THE RANKING MEMBER: Orrin Hatch of Utah.

THE ELDER: Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. The senior member of the committee, and of Congress, he attends most debates; but it's evident that Hatch and other senators frequently have to compensate for his infirmity. …

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