Friday, June 30, 2006

On the Fourth Circuit vacancies

This article via says that of the unfilled vacancies on the Fourth Circuit, the Maryland senators want a Marylander to succeed Judge Murnaghan, the North Carolina senators want dibs on Judge Luttig's seat, the Virginia senators are not letting go of Judge Luttig's seat, and nobody knows when there will be votes on Judge Boyle and Mr. Haynes.

Regarding the latter two, the article concludes:

"Boyle was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee exactly one year ago and is set to go to the floor of the chamber, but it’s anybody’s guess as to whether Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) will actually bring up the nomination. Earlier this month, Republican Judiciary Committee staffers held eight half-hour briefings a day for nearly a week to help staffers respond to charges that Boyle had violated federal law by issuing orders in at least nine cases involving corporations in which he had stock holdings.

'We found five cases in which there were strict technical violations in which Boyle should have recused himself,' says a Senate GOP staff counsel. 'But they were administrative oversights. He ruled in over 16,000 cases; these five slipped through the cracks.'

Most Democrats, however, aren’t buying that argument. 'A conflict of interest is a conflict,' says a staffer for one Democratic member of the 'Gang of 14,' the group of seven GOP and seven Democratic senators who vowed not to block any judicial nominations unless there were 'extraordinary circumstances.'

Haynes, who was first nominated in September 2003, is even more problematic. 'There’s no way they want him discussed right now,' says a senior Republican aide, referring to both the White House and Republican senators up for re-election. 'They don’t want to talk about Abu Ghraib during election season.' Besides, Haynes’ nomination won’t get to the Senate floor without another hearing in the Judiciary Committee. Asked last week about holding another hearing on Haynes, committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) was carefully ambiguous. 'I’m considering it. I’m considering it,' he said."

The Washington Times has this commentary from Senator Dole on the handling of the Boyle nomination, titled "Borking Judge Boyle." She says in part: "If you want evidence proving that the judicial confirmation process is in serious need of repair, Exhibit A would be Judge Terrence Boyle of North Carolina. Nearly 15 years ago, Judge Boyle was nominated for a seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals by the first President Bush. President George W. Bush has since renominated Judge Boyle three times for the same seat — once in 2001, a second time in 2003 and a third time in 2005. Judge Boyle was finally approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee a year ago, yet he continues to patiently await action by the full Senate."

The article noted that the original candidate for the Maryland seat was Peter Kiesler. President Bush has now nominated Kiesler to a seat on the D.C. Circuit.

All of these links came from Howard Bashman.

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