WASHINGTON – President Bush should consult with Democrats on Supreme Court nominees to ensure a smooth path to Senate confirmation, incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (search) of Nevada said Sunday.
There is historical precedent for Bush to do so, Reid said.
He cited the autobiography of Sen. Orrin Hatch (search), in which the Utah Republican said former President Clinton came to him as Judiciary Committee chairman with suggestions of nominees that could win approval from the other side of the aisle.
"That's the same model that President Bush should follow, if in fact we have Supreme Court nominees come before us," Reid said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The Senate is expected to take up one or more Supreme Court nominees in the new session that begins in January.
Reid suggested he may be open to the possibility of Justice Antonin Scalia as a replacement for ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist (search).
"This is one smart guy," said Reid. "I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute."
Reid called Justice Clarence Thomas "an embarrassment." He added: "I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think that he's done a good job."
Reid has written a letter to the president about the need to work together.
In it, he says Clinton heeded Hatch's advice to "appoint the more widely respected Judges Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer rather than more ideological choices under consideration. The Senate confirmed both nominees by wide margins."