VOLLEY OF WORDS OVER SOUTER NOMINATION

Conservative Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and liberal Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts traded shots at each other Monday over the nomination of Judge David Souter to the United States Supreme Court. ``I reject the unseemly attempts being made by Attorney General Thornburgh and the Bush administration to muzzle the Senate confirmation process,'' Senator Kennedy said at the annual meeting of the American Bar Association.

``One thing is certain: The Senate Judiciary Committee intends to find out what Judge Souter thinks about the Constitution. ... The Senate will not confirm a blank slate to the Supreme Court of the United States,'' Kennedy said.

Thornburgh appeared agitated when confronted with Kennedy's remarks during a news conference.

``Nobody is asking for a confirmation of a blank slate,'' he said angrily, noting New Hampshire Judge Souter's distinguished record.

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