Senators and former Law School colleagues of Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg expressed anger over his decision to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court in the wake of revelations that he had used marijuana.
Just nine days after he was nominated, Ginsburg announced at a Saturday press conference that he had asked President Reagan to withdraw his name from consideration by the Senate. The nine days were filled with stories about the former Law School professor's private and professional life, including his own admission that he used marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s.
The marijuana story, revealed Thursday,provoked strong reaction from both supporters anddetractors of the nomination. Several Law Schoolfaculty members greeted Ginsburg's withdrawal withanger at the Reagan Administration and the press.Others expressed disappointment with Ginsburg, whohas been an appeals judge for one year.
"I think the Reagan Administration should bearsome responsibility for playing with human livesand taking a callous and casual attitude towardsthe constitutional process of nominating andconfirming Supreme Court justices," said TylerProfessor of Constitutional Law Laurence H. Tribe'62, a former colleague of Ginsburg.
"I feel very sorry for Doug Ginsburg and hisfamily," said Tribe, a strong opponent of JudgeRobert H. Bork, Ginsburg's predecessor to replaceretired Justice Lewis F. Powell. "What hashappened reflects far more badly on the ReaganAdministration than on Judge Ginsburg."
Law Professor Hal S. Scott, a friend andcolleague of Ginsburg since high school, blamedthe press for the failure of the jurist'snomination.
"Unfortunately the only hearing he had wasconducted by the media. There must be a betterprocess for evaluating Supreme Court justices. Hadthe hearings been held, I am confident he wouldhave been confirmed," Scott said in a statementreleased Saturday.
Scott last week told the press that severalyears ago he had rebuked Ginsburg for usingmarijuana at a party.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-Del.), chairman of theSenate Judiciary Commitee, said the fact thatGinsburg used marijuana had no effect on hisqualifications for the position of Supreme Courtjustice. "But the Administration has taken a verystaunch line" against the use of drugs, he said.
Some Congressional critics had questioned thenomination of Ginsburg, a banking and anti-trustexpert trained at the University of Chicago,because he had little experience with many of theconstitutional issues the Supreme Court faces.
The nomination ran into heavy opposition withthe revelations of past drug use becauseGinsburg's original supporters, conservatives inthe Administration and the Senate, are also thefiercest rhetorical opponents of illegal drug use.
On Friday, Secretary of Education William J.Bennett publicly said Ginsburg should withdraw hisname. Bennet also called the nominee to tell himto withdraw from consideration, reportedly afterReagan told him to "do what you think is right," aBennett aide said.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass), a memberof the Judiciary Committee said, "I think Ginsburgwas right to withdraw. There has been a cloud uponhis nomination from the beginning."
And Biden said that the Administration shouldchoose a new nominee as soon as possible. "We needto fill the vacancy on the Court as soon aspossible," he said.
Reagan said yesterday he would choose a newnominee as soon as possible. He is expected toconsider seriously the two other finalists in hislast search for a nominee, Judge Anthony A.Kennedy of Sacremento, Cal., and Judge William W.Wilkins of Greenville, S.C.
Kennedy was flown to Washington shortly beforeReagan chose Ginsburg, and he flew to the captitalagain on Saturday. Kennedy was reportedly thechoice of White House Chief of Staff Howard Bakerand other more moderate conservatives in theAdminstration who thought his more mainstreamviews would make his confirmation more likely thanGinsburg's.
Wilkins, on the other hand, is the candidate ofSen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), ranking Republicanon the Senate Judiciary Committee