Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Still more on the Claude Allen hearing

The NY Times (registration required) has this article on the Senate committee hearing for Fourth Circuit nominee Claude Allen, which provides in part:

"[I]n an extraordinary tableau, sitting at the same witness table were the two senators from Maryland, Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski, who were incensed because the seat for which Claude Allen was nominated has traditionally gone to a candidate from Maryland.

Senator Sarbanes, known for his laconic and droning manner, was so animated in his remarks that Senate staff members said they had never seen him so emotional.

Like Ms. Mikulski, he did not address Mr. Allen's qualifications for the job. Instead, he said he had been misled by the White House counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, who assured him that he would try to see that the seat would remain reserved for Maryland.

. . . Mr. Allen has been nominated to a seat formerly filled by Judge Francis D. Murnaghan Jr. of Maryland, who died in 2000. If Mr. Allen was confirmed, it would mean that Maryland, with 20 percent of the population in the circuit, would go from three seats to two on the 15-member court.

White House officials said Tuesday that while Mr. Gonzales wrote Senators Sarbanes and Mikulski last July, saying he would try to apportion the seats on the court fairly, he explicitly said Maryland's proper entitlement could be two or three seats."

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