Committee Endorses Supreme Court Nominees

Committee Endorses Supreme Court Nominees

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Senate Confirmation Committee has recommended the full Senate approve the governor's nominations of Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill N. Parrish and 3rd District Judge Ronald E. Nehring to the Utah Supreme Court.

The vote Monday marked the end of a committee investigation that had included six hours of interviews during which Parrish and Nehring were asked questions about their judicial philosophy, their views on issues including the death penalty and religion in schools and about their home lives and backgrounds.

The two were the first judicial nominees to face dramatic changes in the way the Senate evaluates potential judges. Senators stripped away a previous presumption of a nominee's fitness to serve and set up a new process that provided committee members access to all written information used by the governor in making his selections.

Questions were often personal, with senators asking Parrish if, as a mother of five, she had time for the job as a mother of five.

Nehring spoke about his ongoing recovery from throat cancer, and was quizzed about his signature on an order enforcing a Utah Judicial Council decision that thwarted legislation aimed at putting gun lockers in courthouses.

Both Nehring and Parrish said the questioning made them think more about the responsibility they would be taking on as members of the state's highest court.

"It was a very fair and vigorous inquiry," said Nehring, 55, of Salt Lake City.

Parrish, 41, of Bountiful, also said the process made her reflect on the role of the three branches of government.

Much of the questioning revolved around how the two might handle challenges to state law. Both answered they would be cautious in overturning the work of the Legislature.

"They are taking their responsibility very seriously and worked very hard at a time when they were swamped," said Parrish of the committee members.

If Parrish joins the high court, it will include two women for the first time. With Nehring, the court would have a non-Mormon justice.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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