Reid: Gonzales Qualified for High Court

By KEN RITTER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 16 minutes ago

LAS VEGAS - Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday pronounced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales qualified to sit on the Supreme Court but added, "I don't know if he'd have an easy way through" Senate confirmation.

Reid also chided conservatives for criticizing Gonzales, a potential high court nominee, while President Bush was overseas. "I think it's too bad the president has to respond in Denmark about statements from the far right," he said. "People here have gone a little too far."

Gonzales was confirmed as attorney general by a vote of 60-36 earlier this year as Republicans overrode Democratic critics who said he had helped formulate White House policies that led to torture of prisoners held overseas as part of the war on terror.

"Alberto Gonzales is qualified. He's attorney general of the United States and a former Texas judge," Reid said. "But having said that he's qualified, I don't know if he'd have an easy way through."

Republicans have a 55-44 majority in the Senate, with one Democratic-leaning independent. Barring a filibuster, a unified GOP would have enough votes to confirm Bush's selection to the court.

Reid voted against Gonzales' appointment to Bush's Cabinet.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, said the senator "feels that he obviously has the credentials and he is worthy of consideration for all the reasons he did cite."

At the same time, Manley said Reid "does feel that there is a process that needs to be respected ... and he'll wait for that process to work its way."