Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, December 24, 2004


Page 1


Kuhl Withdraws Bid for Federal Appeals Court

Brown Among 20 to Be Renominated to U.S. Bench When Congress Returns


From Staff and Wire Service Reports


Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl yesterday withdrew her bid to become a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge.

“I am grateful to the President for the professional honor of my nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,” Kuhl said in a statement. “I nevertheless have declined to accept renomination and have decided instead to focus my energies on continued service to the State of California.”

Kuhl, who is married to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Highberger, said it was “time for me and my family to move on, professionally and personally.”

The judge announced her withdrawal the same day the White House said it would resubmit 20 judicial nominations that were not voted on by the Senate last year. Among the 20 are California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Ninth Circuit nominee William G. Myers, a Boise, Idaho attorney and former solicitor for the Interior Department.

New Assignment

Kuhl, a judge since 1995, has served the past two years as supervising judge for the civil departments of the Los Angeles Superior Court and has been assigned to supervise the complex litigation program at Central Civil West beginning next month.

Her nomination drew opposition from liberal interest groups and all but two of the Senate’s Democrats supported a filibuster that prevented an up-or-down vote that would have put her on the appeals court.

Kuhl said she had “no personal grudge” against those who opposed her, saying they did so for political, rather than personal, reasons.

“The judicial confirmation process for the federal courts is broken, to the detriment of the judicial branch,” Kuhl insisted. “I urge political leaders and the legal community to seek a solution.”

Initial indications were that this was unlikely to happen anytime soon, as Democrats expressed irritation with the inclusion of several candidates who they opposed in the last Congress on the list of those to be renominated.

 “I was extremely disappointed to learn today that the president intends to begin the new Congress by resubmitting extremist judicial nominees,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in a statement. “Last Congress, Senate Democrats worked with the president to approve 204 judicial nominees, rejecting only 10 of the most extreme.”

Of the 10 nominees blocked by filibuster, seven—Brown, Meyers, Texas Supreme Court Justice and Fifth Circuit nominee Priscilla Richman Owen, Eleventh Circuit Judge William H. Pryor, a recess appointee, and Sixth Circuit nominees David W. McKeague, Henry W. Saad, and Richard A. Griffin of Michigan, are among those to be renominated when Congress returns next month.

Third to Withdraw

Kuhl is the third of the 10 to withdraw, after Washington attorney and D.C. Circuit nominee Miguel Estrada and Fifth Circuit recess appointee Judge Charles Pickering Sr. The White House did not renominate Claude Allen, whose Virginia residency upset Maryland’s two senators because the post to which he was nominated on the Fourth Circuit typically is held by a Marylander.

Allen previously worked for retired U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.

Reid said Bush’s decision to resubmit the nominees was a “disservice” to the public because it distracted the Senate from paying attention to the war in Iraq, health care and other pressing issues.

The others to be renominated to the appeals courts are U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle of North Carolina and Army General Counsel William James Haynes II to the Fourth Circuit, White House lawyer Brett M. Kavanaugh and Brigham Young University General Counsel Thomas B. Griffith to the D.C. Circuit, and Michigan trial judge Susan Bieke Neilson to the Sixth Circuit.

Bush also intends to nominate again the following eight people to less controversial U.S. District Court positions:

James C. Dever III, Eastern District, North Carolina; Thomas L. Ludington, Eastern District, Michigan; Robert J. Conrad, Western District, North Carolina; Daniel P. Ryan, Eastern District, Michigan; Peter G. Sheridan, New Jersey; Paul A. Crotty, Southern District, New York; Sean F. Cox, Eastern District, Michigan; and J. Michael Seabright, Hawaii.

Republican Gains

Republicans hope their gain of four Senate seats on Election Day will discourage Democrats from using filibusters again. But in a Senate next year with 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and a Democrat-leaning independent, Democrats still will have the 40 votes necessary to uphold a filibuster. The Republicans need 60 votes to end a filibuster.

“I hope they’ll receive better treatment than they did in the last Congress,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a Judiciary Committee member, said Thursday. “We experienced unprecedented filibusters of the president’s judicial nominees, which I believe the voters repudiated on Nov. 2, both by returning the president with a decisive victory and defeating the chief obstructionist in the Senate, that was the minority leader.

“The dynamics of 2006 are in play here,” Cornyn said. “Those Democratic senators up for re-election in states Bush did very well in have to be looking at what happened to Tom Daschle in South Dakota and wondering if the same fate is in store for them if they continue to obstruct and prevent up or down votes on the president’s nominees.”

Daschle’s Nov. 2 election loss cost him his Senate seat and the job of Senate minority leader.


Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company