End of the line for a key Bush judge?

Speculation is mounting that circuit-court nominee Terrence Boyle, now dogged by ethics allegations, will never see a full Senate vote.


Mark Follman
May 6, 2006 3:42AM (UTC)

Former vice-presidential candidate and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has joined the chorus calling for President Bush to withdraw the nomination of Terrence Boyle, a controversial judge from Edwards' home state who Bush tapped for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

"I have objected to Judge Boyle's nomination to the Court of Appeals from the beginning," Edwards said in a statement released Friday. "From his long history of hostility to civil rights to the dozens of reversals of his opinions, it is clear that he does not deserve a promotion. Now that there is new information about possible financial conflicts of interest on his part, it is even more clear that he is not fit to serve on the bench. ... President Bush should withdraw this nomination immediately."

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Salon and the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed early this week that the longtime federal district court judge who once worked for Jesse Helms violated federal ethics law repeatedly since his nomination by Bush in 2001. Edwards was instrumental in blocking Boyle in the Senate until he left office to campaign for the White House with John Kerry in 2004. With Edwards gone, Boyle made it past the Judiciary Committee in 2005 on a party-line vote, and was expected to be scheduled for a full floor vote soon at the urging of Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Now, there's mounting speculation Boyle will stay off the calendar -- and maybe for good. Senate Democrats are threatening to filibuster several hard-line Bush appellate nominees, and there have been renewed stirrings of partisan warfare and another showdown over the so-called nuclear option. Atop a healthy list of Democratic objections to Boyle, Harry Reid this week called the Salon/CIR report on Boyle's ethics record "the clincher."

Perhaps more of a teeth-clencher for Senate Republicans, some of whom now seem to be indicating that Boyle could go down in an unavoidable round of horse trading. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona told a Washington publication on Wednesday that some circuit court nominees "may drop out" to get others through.

"We'll take care of the ones who've been nominated with one or two exceptions," Kyl said. No word yet if the judge who invested in General Electric stock while ruling in a lawsuit against the corporation will be one of them.


Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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