Metropolitan News-Enterprise

 

Monday, December 19, 2005

 

Page 1

 

President Nominates Former Idaho GOP Chair to Ninth Circuit

 

By Kenneth Ofgang, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts

 

President Bush Friday nominated former Idaho Republican Chairman N. Randy Smith, now a state trial judge, to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

If confirmed by the Senate, Smith, 56, would fill the vacancy created when Judge Stephen Trott took senior status.

Idaho is currently the only state in the circuit without an active judge, as Trott took senior status at the end of last year and Judge Thomas Nelson did the same in November 2003.

Bush has nominated Boise attorney William G. Myers III to succeed Nelson, but Democrats have thus far prevented him from winning confirmation. His nomination was sent to the floor by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote of 10-8 prior to last yearís elections, but supporters came up seven votes short of the 60 needed to break a filibuster.

No agreement concerning Myers was reached when a bipartisan group of senators reached a compromise to avert filibusters on several other nominees. The attorney told the Idaho Statesman earlier this month that he remains an active candidate, but the Senate has no timetable for taking up the nomination.

Myers, who was first nominated on May 15, 2003, is a former solicitor of the Department of the Interior. He has drawn opposition from native American activists and environmental groups, who say the former lobbyist for mining and cattle interests has environmental views outside the mainstream.

Smith, who sits on the Sixth District Court in Pocatello, may have an easier time winning confirmation. His supporters include Pocatello Councilman Richard Stallings, a former congressman who is now the state Democratic chair, and Fred Hoopes, a Democrat and Idaho Falls lawyer who is a former State Bar president, Idaho newspapers reported.

Meyers and Smith were among four candidates recommended by the stateís senior senator, Republican Larry Craig, when Nelson said he was stepping down two years ago.

Smith was named to the state bench in 1995 by then-Gov. Phil Batt, under whom he served as party chair. He received undergraduate and law degrees at Brigham Young University and worked as a corporate lawyer for the J.R. Simplot Co. before going into private practice in Pocatello in 1982.

There are no nominees for the other two vacancies on the Ninth Circuit, both created when California judges took senior status. Judge A. Wallace Tashima has been a senior judge since June 30 of last year, and Judge James Browning, for whom the courtís San Francisco headquarters building is named, since Sept. 1, 2000.

 

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