The headline on a May 12 article about Terrence W. Boyle, President Bush's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, incorrectly said that Boyle has spent 15 years as a nominee. The article referred to the judge's nearly 15-year bid for a seat on the appellate bench; he was nominated for the 4th Circuit by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and by the current President Bush in 2001 and again this year.
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N.C. Judge Has Spent 15 Years as A Nominee
The liberal advocacy organization People for the American Way has called that a "deeply troubling" suggestion that "states can discriminate . . . because of the state's 'culture.' "
The 4th Circuit reversed Boyle's decision, saying he had abused his discretion as a judge.
Boyle was renominated to the 4th Circuit by President Bush in 2001. But Helms had retired, and North Carolina had a new senator, Democrat John Edwards. One of the four Clinton nominees who had been blocked by Helms, Leonard, is Edwards's close friend.
Edwards turned the tables on the Republicans, refusing to permit consideration of a North Carolinian he considered unqualified for the job -- namely, Boyle.
By this time, the 4th Circuit did have its first black judge, Gregory, who had been given a recess appointment by Clinton in 2000. In a rare moment of comity between the parties, Gregory was renominated by Bush at the urging of Virginia's Republican senators, John W. Warner and George Allen -- and confirmed easily by the Senate in 2001.
But Edwards thought the 4th Circuit, which has the largest black population of any of the 12 federal circuits, needed another black nominee from his home state instead of Boyle.
Edwards's objection was enough to prevent Boyle from receiving a hearing during Bush's first term.
In the interim, Boyle has made some rulings that defied his categorization as a hard-line conservative. He pleased environmental organizations this year by halting construction of a Navy jet practice runway near a bird refuge that is the winter home of thousands of Canadian snow geese and tundra swans. Boyle said the Navy had done a flawed study of the project's environmental impact.
"I've been impressed with Judge Boyle's willingness to understand the underlying law in often-complex cases," said Derb Carter, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented conservation groups opposed to the project.
Edwards gave up his Senate seat to run for the vice presidency alongside Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) in 2004. North Carolina's Senate seats are now held by Republicans, Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr.
This helped Boyle receive a hearing before the Judiciary Committee on March 3 -- the closest he has come to a Senate vote.
The session consisted mainly of hostile questioning from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and from Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) , who asked Boyle, "I just wonder, are you so out of the mainstream that you shouldn't be on an important appellate court?"
Boyle, still interested in the job after nearly 15 years, and despite what observers said seemed to be a bad cold that day, replied: "I hope that I'm clearly in the mainstream and have done my best to apply the law and hear cases on an individual basis, have no agenda or predisposition about cases."
If Boyle is confirmed, he would have a strong incentive to serve full time for only a few years.
He is eligible to retire and continue to receive his full salary (currently $171,800 for a circuit judge) for life when he turns 65 in 2010. Or he could become a senior judge that year, earning a full salary while handling a quarter of an active judge's caseload.
In either scenario, the president would have to name a replacement, with the advice and consent of the Senate.