This Baltimore Sun article seems to contain every stereotype (good or bad) ever made about the Fourth Circuit.
Here's an example of how this article strikes me as flawed. The article offers this summary of Fourth Circuit decisions:
"Many liberals, though, see the Fourth Circuit as akin to the administration's rubber stamp. It is, they assert, a court that tends to side with government against the individual and business against the employee and to embrace a hard line on terror suspects and civil rights.
The Fourth Circuit began attracting attention in the 1990s when it tried to overturn Miranda, the landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling that requires the police to inform criminal suspects of their right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer.
In recent years it ruled that the Virginia Military Institute could remain all-male, struck down the Violence Against Women Act, said the Food and Drug Administration could not regulate nicotine as a drug, upheld the presence of the Confederate flag on some Virginia license plates and has agreed to hear fewer death penalty appeals than most other circuits."
Now, I know the Fourth Circuit often sides with "the government," but I'm pretty sure that the Fourth Circuit rejected the arguments offered by "the government" in the VMI, VAWA, and FDA cases, all three.
Regarding Clinton nominees, the article says:
"President Bill Clinton was hesitant, historians say, to nominate liberals for fear of looking weak on crime. Four of his nominees for the Fourth Circuit, all moderates, managed to win confirmation after contentious battles. Clinton slipped in a fifth, Roger L. Gregory, as the court's first black judge, through a "recess appointment" while Congress was out of session.
The current President Bush renominated Gregory for the Fourth Circuit - the last federal appeals court to integrate racially - and the Senate confirmed the nomination.
Three of Clinton's nominees on the court - Diana G. Motz, Robert B. King and M. Blane Michael - are the usual dissenters from conservative opinions."
Did Judges Motz, King, Traxler and Michael "win confirmation after contentious battles"? I never heard that there were contentious battles over any of these nominees. In fact, Judges Motz and Michael went through the process during a time when Democrats held the majority in the Senate, and there were no minority-party filibusters in those days.