Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Court Picks at Issue in GOP Primary

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Court Picks at Issue in GOP Primary

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - As voters sort out the differences between the two Republicans vying for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat, perhaps the most instructive example is how they would approach Supreme Court nominations. It's not that six-term U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar's and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock's philosophy of what makes a good justice are much different. Where they disagree is on how to approach the political task at hand.

Lugar says voting for well-qualified nominees of Democratic presidents helps get the picks of Republican presidents confirmed, too. Mourdock, meanwhile, would be much more likely to resist in hopes of forcing Democrats to temper their choices.

It's a difference that underscores their styles: Lugar's someone who tries to achieve his objectives through collaboration and relationships built over time; Mourdock views victory as something that must be accomplished through partisan strength.

Lugar's argument is this: If Republicans weren't willing to vote for well credentialed Democratic nominees, how could Republicans ever get their own party's president's selections confirmed by a Democratic Senate?

He voted in favor of both of President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominees, starting with Sonia Sotomayor. In 2010, Lugar was one of a handful of Republicans to vote to confirm Elena Kagan, Obama's solicitor general whom he made his second Supreme Court nominee.

When he voted to confirm Kagan, Lugar's office reminded people of a speech he made in 2005, when he introduced now-Chief Justice John Roberts after Roberts was nominated by President George W. Bush. He was arguing for Roberts' confirmation. "When a court vacancy occurs, the confirmation process takes on the trappings of a political campaign, replete with interest-group television ads that often reflect the same oversimplifications and distortions that are disturbing even in campaigns for offices that are in fact political," he said. …

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