Norquist has changed his stand because of Specter's backing for two standbys of Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform (ATR): business expense deductions and a flat income tax. Norquist traveled with Specter and spoke for him in Pennsylvania April 14 at three town meetings and two fund-raisers. Specter returned the favor April 15, appearing at the ATR tax-day news conference in the National Press Building in Washington.
A footnote: While traveling in Pennsylvania, Specter did not inform Norquist of his recurrence of cancer (which was announced April 15).
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has not backed down from giving "anti-Catholic comments" as a reason for not acting on the nomination of Federal District Judge Robert Conrad of Charlotte, N.C., to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. But Leahy said he was willing to look again at the views of Conrad, who is a devout Catholic.
At an April 3 Judiciary Committee meeting, Leahy was asked why Conrad's nomination was stalled despite a "well qualified" rating from the American Bar Association and backing from North Carolina's senators. He then raised Conrad's criticism of Sister Helen Prejean, who in her book "Dead Man Walking" denounced traditional elements of the Catholic Church.
Leahy, who also is a Catholic, told this column he based his view on what Conrad wrote in the January/February 1999 issue of Catholic Dossier. The senator added that he would take a closer look at Conrad's article.