June 28, 2005

Reid suggests Republican lawmakers for high court

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democratic leader HarryReid suggested on Tuesday that four of his Republicancolleagues be considered by President Bush if a vacancy occurson the U.S. Supreme Court.

Seeking a possible consensus nominee, Reid recommendedRepublican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mel Martinezof Florida, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

Reid described them all as bright and able lawyers whowould be strong additions to the nation's highest court.

"We have had approximately 10 members of the Supreme Courtthat came from the United States Senate over the years," Reidtold reporters.

"There are people who serve in the Senate now who areRepublicans who I think would be outstanding Supreme Courtmembers," Reid said.

There had been widespread speculation that a resignationcould come soon on the Supreme Court. But uncertainty rose onMonday when the court ended its term for the year without anyannounced departures.

Still, court observers say there could be a resignation onthe aging federal bench in the days, weeks or months ahead.

Reid, who has conferred with Senate Republican leader BillFrist on the possibility of a Supreme Court opening, said hehas made his suggestions to "anyone who will listen."

Reid and fellow Democrats have urged Bush to consult withthem before making a nomination, which the Senate would then beasked to confirm.

Earlier on Tuesday, Frist said, "I've made somesuggestions" to the White House on potential nominees, butdeclined to disclose names.

"They are reaching out for suggestions," Frist said aftergiving a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservativegroup. He added, "I don't have any inside information" aboutwho the nominee could be.

Another senator who has been mentioned as a possibleSupreme Court nominee is Republican John Cornyn of Texas, aformer member of the Texas Supreme Court and the only senatorwith appellate court experience.

Asked if Bush should consider Cornyn, Reid shrugged andsaid, "I've told you (the ones) I think he should consider."

Graham and DeWine were among seven Senate Republicans whojoined seven Senate Democrats in reaching a compromise lastmonth on Bush's most contentious appeals court nominees.

The accord cleared the way for the confirmation of a numberof Bush's nominees, but preserved the right of Democrats toblock others "under extraordinary circumstances."

Cornyn was among those who have criticized the accord,which could face a major test with a Supreme Court nomination.