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News Briefs II

Pennsylvania Judge Withdraws Nomination for U.S. District Court

The Washington Post

Faced with probable rejection by the Senate, Pennsylvania state Judge Frederica A. Massiah-Jackson withdrew her nomination for the U.S. District Court bench.

Massiah-Jackson, who would have been the first black woman to sit on the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, withdrew Monday in a letter to President Clinton charging she had been subjected to an "unrelenting campaign of vilification and distortion" in a "politicized environment."

Republican leaders argued she was soft on crime, biased against police and given to profanity from the bench and said she would have been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate in a vote that had been scheduled for Tuesday.

"Given the strong, bipartisan opposition from law enforcement groups, her demonstrated leniency in sentencing convicted criminals and the Judiciary Committee's concerns about her lack of candor throughout the nomination process, I believe withdrawing the nomination is the right thing to do," said committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).

But Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a senior Judiciary Committee member who led the fight for his fellow Pennsylvanian, praised her "tenacity and courage." He criticized the committee's handing of her nomination, including a second hearing last week during which he said she was asked details she could not possibly have remembered from 15-year-old cases.

Cohen Orders Policies to Address Gender-Related Problems

The Washington Post

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen sidestepped a recommendation to segregate male and female recruits during basic training, ordering a set of less controversial "corrective measures" in training and living conditions to reduce gender-related problems in the ranks.

Cohen gave the services 30 days to come up with plans to increase the number of female recruiters and trainers and improve how all trainers are selected. He also called Monday for greater emphasis on "core military values" in training and told the services to "develop more consistent training standards between the genders."

Pulled between an independent panel that recommended segregation of men and women during part of basic training and the military chiefs who opposed such action, Cohen said he would "reserve judgment" on the segregation issue and wait to see the effect of these changes before making a final decision.

He declined to mandate separate buildings for men and women, another panel recommendation. But he ordered the Army, Navy and Air Force to improve security and supervision in existing housing arrangements. He complained that even though male and female trainees live in separate quarters or on separate floors, doors had been removed at some sites and privacy was insufficient.

"There has been an attitude of a lack of discipline," Cohen said. "And so what we want to do is maintain the separation during those first weeks of basic training to make sure their focus is on the military aspects and not the social."