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January 15, 2002
Scalia Installed at Labor Dept.
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President Bush has made a "recess appointment" of Eugene Scalia to the top legal job in the Labor Department, sidestepping the Democratic-controlled Senate on a controversial nomination.
With Congress in recess, President Bush used his authority to put Scalia in office until the end of the upcoming congressional session, probably in mid-October, according to the Washington Post.
Scalia, a prominent conservative and son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has been awaiting Senate confirmation since April 2001. During that time, he has worked as a Labor Department consultant. In effect, he is simply changing titles, to become the department's solicitor.
Organized labor groups have charged, among other things, that Scalia's dismissal of existing rules on workplace injuries as "quackery" based on "junk science" make him unsuited to be the nation's chief enforcer of rules designed to protect workers.
His nomination strongly opposed by Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, headed by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. Although the committee narrowly endorsed Scalia in October, the nomination stalled before it reached the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle, D-South Dakota, maintained that the Senate eventually would vote on Scalia, but he said it was unlikely he would be approved.
Kennedy said over the weekend that he continues to believe Scalia "is not the right person for this important Labor Department position. His record and experience do not reflect a commitment to the rights of America's workers."