White House counsel Alberto Gonzales won U.S. Senate confirmation on Thursday as the nation’s next attorney general, but recorded the second highest number of “no” votes for a successful nominee for the post.
The Republican-led Senate rejected Democrats’ complaints that he helped craft policies that contributed to the torture of foreign detainees and approved him on a largely party-line vote, 60-36.
Gonzales, 49, a former Texas Supreme Court justice who has been President Bush’s top lawyer the past four years, will be the first Hispanic to head the Justice Department.
“It’s sort of a sad situation that a man of his integrity, of his accomplishments, of his skills, of his background has to be defended here,” Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, said shortly before the Senate ended a third day of debate and voted.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said, “He has supported policies that are in fundamental conflict with decades of our laws, sound military practice, international law and human rights.”
Bush nominated Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft, a conservative lightning rod confirmed four years ago by a 58-42 vote.
The only nominee with more “no” votes was Charles Warren, rejected by the Senate in March 1925, 39-46, according to the Senate historian’s office.