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Reagan Urges Senate to Approve Manion

June 22, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Reagan, expecting a Senate showdown this week on one of his judicial nominees, accused opponents Saturday of making ″partisan use of the confirmation process″ to derail the appointment.

In his weekly radio address, the president defended Daniel Manion against critics on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which last month voted 9-9 against confirming his nomination to a seat on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

″He has substantial litigation experience and a reputation for integrity; even opponents from his days in the Indiana Senate attest to his character and ability,″ Reagan said. ″And the American Bar Association has declared him fully qualified to be a federal judge.

Critics have noted, however, that Manion’s ″qualified″ bar rating was the lowest passing grade given by the group’s judicial screening committee.

″Nevertheless, partisanship in the Senate has pushed fair play by the boards; which is why I’ve sent a letter to the Senate expressing my strong opinion about the prerogative of the president to make qualified appointments to the federal judiciary, and what I feel has been the partisan use of the confirmation process.″

Two Republicans joined seven Democrats in the Judiciary Committee’s 9-9 vote last month against Manion’s confirmation. The panel then voted 11-6 to send the nomination to the Senate floor without any recommendation. A vote by the full Senate could come on Wednesday.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., that Dole released Saturday, Reagan said he intends ″to fight for the nomination of Dan Manion and I do not accept (the) hidden restrictive covenant in the confirmation process that reads: No conservatives need apply.″

He also said in the letter that Manion’s political views ″are close to my own political views,″ and called Manion a ″capable attorney, with a high reputation for integrity and substantial litigation experience.″

In a statement issued after Reagan’s speech, Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., who has led the fight of Democratic senators against Manion, ″the Senate has been more than fair to the administration’s judicial nominees.

″The last 100 have been confirmed with only two roll-call votes. But when quality is the issue with these lifetime appointments, we will be firm as well as fair.″

Manion, a former Indiana state senator whose father was a founder of the ultraconservative John Birch Society, has come under attack by several Democratic lawmakers for his legal background and conservative political views.

He was the first Reagan court nominee to fail to win committee endorsement in the Republican-controlled Senate, although the committee later rejected the nomination of Jefferson B. Sessions III to be a federal district judge in Alabama.

Reagan made no mention of Sessions in the radio address, delivered from Camp David, the weekend presidential hideaway in the Maryland mountains.

Critics ″even tried to make a major issue of a few typographical errors in several of his briefs,″ Reagan said. The panel examined legal briefs written by Manion that were riddled with spelling and gramatical errors, though critics deny these writings were the basis for their opposition.

″The real objection to Dan Manion is that he doesn’t conform to the liberal ideology of some senators,″ he said.

Reagan quoted one senator, whom he did not identify, as telling Manion during his confirmation hearing, ″I think you’re a decent and honorable man, but I do not think I can vote for you because of your political views.″

″But I believe the Senate should consider only a nominee’s qualifications and character, not his ’political views,″ Reagan said.

″Now, I would welcome a national debate on those ‘political views,’ and how we’re going to keep up the attack on this nation’s crime problem,″ he added. ″In the meantime, however, I intend to keep right on appointing tough, responsible judges to the courts; and I would hope that the Senate would get to work and confirm Daniel Manion to the U.S. Court of Appeals.″

Critics have argued he had flouted the Constitution by sponsoring legislation in the Indiana senate to permit the Ten Commandments to be posted in Indiana schools, despite a court ruling that had struck down a nearly identical Kentucky law.

The 7th Circuit, headquartered in Chicago, hears appeals from federal district courts in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

In his statement, Simon said there has been ″a marked decline in the quality″ of federal judicial appointments since Edwin Meese became Reagan’s attorney general last year.

″Mr. Manion squeaked by with only the lowest possible rating on the American Bar Association’ four-tiered rating system and 35 percent of all the appellate court nominees are in the same category,″ Simon said.

″If the White House had shown the same attention to quality in these nominations that it has to Supreme Court candidates there would be no showdown next week in the Senate on the Manion case,″ Simon said.

Simon’s press secretary David Carle said a Senate vote against Manion ″is certainly a prospect (though) we are not predicting that.″

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