Speaker Newt Gingrich's idea for a special House committee to conduct any impeachment inquiry against President Clinton is drawing opposition from GOP members of the panel that historically has handled such matters.

Such a plan "would be widely viewed as an unprecedented and unprincipled act of partisanship," Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., wrote Gingrich in a letter Canady's office made public Tuesday."The creation of a `select committee' would be attacked as an attempt to stack the deck and politicize a process that should be carried out in a judicious and objective manner," Canady said.

Canady is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the panel that has handled impeachment issues in the past, most notably the proceedings against then-President Nixon in 1974. The Florida lawmaker added that the panel's role in impeachment "is understood and respected by the American people."

Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has also registered his objections privately to a special committee, according to GOP sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that Hyde had sent Gingrich a note last week that said the idea would divide Republicans and politicize the impeachment process.