The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the American public closely divided on whether or not the Senate should take into account the political views of a judicial nominee, with 51 percent saying they should play a role and 46 saying they should be off the table, reports ABC News' Dalia Sussman. Ideologically, however, the split plays out a little differently: nearly 60 percent of Republicans say personal political views shouldn't be considered, while 55 percent of independents and 60 percent of Democrats say they're fair game. In addition, 41 percent of Americans said they think the next justice should be more moderate than conservative or liberal. In terms of how President Bush has handled the nomination of federal judges, 46 percent said they approve, and 44 percent said they disapprove -- largely split along partisan lines. LINK
The Washington Post's Chuck Lane handles the paper's poll analysis duty, looking at the results showing that evangelicals would rather have lawmakers involved in handling social issues than the courts. He also takes Note of the survey from the Pew Research Center yesterday that showed conservatives' discontent resulting in a drop in public support for the Supreme Court. LINK
Speaking of that Pew poll, the survey found that 57 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the nation's highest court, and 30 percent said they view it unfavorably. Democrats in particular appear to have soured a bit on the court after the Bush v. Gore decision, according to Pew Director Andrew Kohut, but the bigger drop since January 2001 -- 20 points -- has been among conservative Republicans who want judges to take a tougher stance on abortion. However, the poll shows 63 percent of Americans oppose the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade completely. LINK
Reports Roll Call's Paul Kane: "A pair of conservative organizations with strong ties to the White House and Congressional GOP leaders on Wednesday announced a $21 million TV and grass-roots campaign in the anticipated battle over a Supreme Court vacancy later this summer."
"Progress for America plans to take the lead role in defending the expected nomination -- or nominations -- to the Supreme Court. The group, a so-called 527 run by GOP media advisers with connections to both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, is devoting a minimum of $18 million to its campaign, with roughly 70 percent of that going to a national and localized TV campaign."
"While stating that the organization had no inside knowledge about whether Chief Justice William Rehnquist or other justices would announce their retirements later this month, the group's president said he had already raised most of the $18 million for the campaign."
The nomination of Lester Crawford to be the FDA's commissioner is headed out of committee and to the Senate floor, but the outlook is less than perfectly promising, reports the Washington Post's Marc Kaufman. LINK
"Two days after a group of African leaders complained that the Bush administration's signature program to aid poor nations had proved slow, the head of the program told his staff on Wednesday that he would resign," reports an unbylined writer for the New York Times. LINK
Judy Keen and Richard Benedetto of USA Today look at President Bush's increasingly vocal irritation with Congress -- or, more specifically, its Democrats. LINK
Politics of tobacco: