PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON'S administration, which boasts an
unprecedented record of appointing women and minorities to the
federal bench, says it may soon shift course and steer future
appointments to the right to get them through the new Republican
Congress. The administration has 57 judicial openings to fill.
The first test of how cautiously the White House will tread is
an upcoming set of decisions on 14 candidates whose nominations
were pending before the fall elections. Those elections resulted in
a Republican landslide and a congressional majority in the session
that will open Wednesday.
Before resubmitting names to the GOP Senate for confirmation,
Clinton's administration will check on opposition from Sen. Orrin
Hatch of Utah, the incoming Judiciary Committee chairman, said
Eleanor Dean Acheson, who handles appointments for the Justice
"I don't think the Republican senators on the Judiciary
Committee have it in for women and minorities," said Acheson, a
former lawyer from Boston. "But we will have to pay more attention
to the ideological aspects of the current climate."
While such attention could help finesse some appointments
through the approval process, it also could cause Clinton's
administration to back away from some previously touted nominees.
That would reinforce criticisms that Clinton sometimes is more
ready to compromise with the political opposition than to fight for
his supporters and beliefs.
One of those awaiting resubmission is Sandra Lynch, a lawyer
from Brookline, Mass. Clinton nominated her in September to fill
the federal appeals court vacancy in Boston that was created by
Chief Judge Stephen G. Breyer's appointment to the U.S. Supreme
Court. Lynch's nomination was not considered by the Senate before
the 103rd Congress ended.
Officials in Clinton's administration said they expected to
renominate Lynch, a partner with the Foley, Hoag & Eliot law firm
and an activist for school desegregation and Planned Parenthood.
Aides to Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who put Lynch's name
forward, said they were optimistic that a Republican Senate would
confirm her. If so, Lynch would become the first woman on the 1st
Circuit Court, which handles cases from much of New England and
California lawyer Samuel Paz, who was nominated to fill a
district court post, and Peter Edelman, appointed to the federal
appeals bench in Washington, could face a tougher battle, sources