Kavanaugh Nomination Headed to Senate Vote

The Associated Press
Thursday, May 11, 2006; 12:45 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's nomination of White House aide Brett Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court judgeship moved a step closer to confirmation Thursday even as Democrats raised objections to two other judicial picks.

After Democrats cleared the way, the Judiciary Committee approved Kavanaugh in a 10-8, party-line vote, and the Democrats moved on to questions about the other nominees' conflicts and qualifications.

"They'd be an embarrassment to even be debated on the floor," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., referring to the nominations of Terrence Boyle to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and Michael Wallace to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The White House showed no sign of withdrawing either nomination.

The Kavanaugh vote came after Democrats stepped out of the way for the first time since Bush nominated his staff secretary to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia two years ago.

Republicans touted Kavanaugh's Ivy League credentials and said he was candid this week during a rare second hearing in which he told the panel he played no role in the administration's policies on detainees or wiretapping.

While they may not filibuster Kavanaugh's nomination, Democrats nonetheless complained that Bush's choice of a key aid for a lifetime appointment is evidence of a process that has become too political. They pointed at Kavanaugh's downgraded assessment by the American Bar Association as proof that he is unqualified for the post.

"Mr. Kavanaugh himself is neither seasoned enough nor independent enough at this early stage of his career to merit a lifetime appointment to the second-highest court in the land," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Republicans brushed off the objections as partisan.

"This is a clear case of much ado about nothing," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. As for Kavanaugh's service to the Bush administration, Hatch added: "It is not bad for an attorney to represent people with whom we disagree."

But even as Kavanaugh's nomination was sent toward the Senate floor, Democrats mobilized against two more of Bush's picks whose nominations appeared in trouble.

Boyle has drawn almost no defense, even from Republicans, since a report in Salon.com alleged that he ruled in a case against General Electric after having bought stock in the company.

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