Friday, July 22, 2005

Inouye wants meeting
with nominee

WASHINGTON » U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says he looks forward to meeting with John Roberts Jr. before making up his mind about whether he supports President Bush's Supreme Court nominee.

Inouye met yesterday with other members of the Senate's Gang of 14, which forged a bipartisan agreement in May to avoid a showdown over Bush's judicial appointees.

After the morning meeting, at least two of the group's seven Republicans -- John McCain of Arizona and John Warner of Virginia -- said there probably will not be a filibuster over Roberts' nomination.

"We should wait until the process has been completed," Inouye told the Star-Bulletin. "That means going through the Judiciary Committee. ... Then when they come up with their findings and recommendations and documents, we will have an opportunity to look them over.

"To do otherwise would be irresponsible. ... I never even met the guy."

Hawaii's other Democratic senator, Daniel Akaka also has never met Roberts.

However, Akaka said he did sit through the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court hearing when Roberts argued the state's case in the Rice v. Cayetano matter.

At that time, Roberts was a member of the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson. He unsuccessfully argued before the high court that voting for Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees could be limited to Hawaiians because of their special status with the federal government, similar to American Indians and their tribal elections.

Although Roberts lost the case, Akaka said "it's good to have someone on the high court who is familiar with Hawaiian issues."

Inouye said that shortly after Supreme Court Justice Sandra O'Connor announced her retirement on July 1, he got a phone call from Bush's chief of staff, who was flying on Air Force One with the president, as part of "the consultation process."

Inouye said "I had to smile" when Bush's Chief of Staff Andrew Card asked, "'Do you have any suggestions (to replace O'Connor)?'

"All I said was, 'Don't you think that's the responsibility of the president?'"

There were no indications at that time whom Bush was considering.

Akaka said that he would "like to study him a little bit more."

Akaka noted that he had wanted Bush to name "a moderate, someone from the western side of the country and a person who knows and supports the Constitution."

Sen. Daniel Inouye

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