Committee OKs judicial nominee, but Senate outlook is uncertain

WASHINGTON (BP)--The Judiciary Committee sent appeals court nominee Terrence Boyle to the full U.S. Senate in a party-line vote June 16.

The committee voted 10-8 for Boyle, with Republicans in the majority. Democrats have strongly criticized Boyle, and it is uncertain if they will seek to use a filibuster to block a confirmation vote on the 21-year veteran of the federal bench.

President Bush originally nominated Boyle to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2001. He has since renominated Boyle in both 2003 and 2005. The Democrats' delays of Boyle go back to 1991, when he was selected for the Fourth Circuit by the first President Bush. Boyle never received a hearing then, however.

Senate opponents and liberal organizations have criticized Boyle, saying his record on the bench is weak and he has opposed civil rights and women's rights. Boyle's supporters have refuted those charges.

In the three weeks preceding the Judiciary Committee vote on Boyle, the full Senate confirmed six previously delayed judicial nominees. Those confirmation votes followed a compromise agreed upon by seven senators from each party. In the May 23 compromise, the seven Democrats agreed to permit votes on three of the most contentious nominees while reserving the right to filibuster other nominees in "extraordinary circumstances," which were not defined. The Republicans in the agreement committed not to support an attempt to change the rule requiring 60 votes to end a judicial filibuster.

According to the agreement, William Myers and Henry Saad, nominees to the Ninth and Sixth circuits, respectively, were not guaranteed up-or-down confirmation votes. In addition to Boyle, other appellate nominees whose fate remains uncertain are William Haynes, also recommended for the Fourth Circuit, and Brett Kavanaugh, a choice for the D.C. Circuit.

Organizations that favor abortion and homosexual rights have been among the leaders in opposing the filibustered nominees.

President Reagan nominated Boyle as a federal judge in 1984. Before his selection to the federal bench, Boyle practiced law privately and served as an aide to former Sen. Jesse Helms, R.-N.C.

The Fourth Circuit, which is based in Richmond, Va., consists of federal courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.


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