Nervous about talk that Sen. Joseph Lieberman is still on Sen. John McCain's vice-presidential short list, conservatives who have campaigned for President George W. Bush's judicial nominees are putting out the word that the Connecticut senator is not their first, second or third choice. "Republicans are concerned about Lieberman's pro-choice stance and his weak record on judges," says Curt Levey, executive director of the conservative Committee for Justice. Levey points to Lieberman's vote against the confirmation of Samuel Alito Jr. in 2006 as indicative of his record on judges. The only way conservatives would find him acceptable, says Levey, is if Lieberman pledged to keep his hands off judicial nominations in a McCain Administration and pledged not to run for President himself so he wouldn't get to appoint his own judges.
Another demand, says Levey, would be that if selected, Lieberman, who currently caucuses with the Democrats, would caucus with Republican senators through the end of the year, thereby giving the GOP a brief period in the majority. During that period, the Senate could organize itself with a Republican majority and swiftly confirm a number of pending judicial nominees in the D.C. and 4th Circuit, says Levey. "We're not betting any money on Lieberman being selected and making pledges, but the possibility of a Senate reorganization is too enticing to ignore."