Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) yesterday proposed the names of three U.S. District Court judges in Virginia for a vacancy on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, bypassing a senior Justice Department aide reportedly favored for the position by the attorney general.
Warner's office had no comment on the omission from the list of Kenneth W. Starr, 36, legal counsel to Attorney General William French Smith. Starr reportedly had been touted to Warner by a high Justice Department official.
Recommended by Warner, the state's senior senator, were Albert V. Bryan Jr. of Alexandria, J. Calvitt Clarke Jr. of Norfolk and Glen M. Williams of Abingdon in southwestern Virginia.
"In making my recommendations, I proceeded in accordance with the long traditions of constitutional 'advice and consent' and in accordance with the written guidance provided by the Justice Department," Warner said in a prepared statement.
An aide to Warner noted that Warner had said last fall, when the retirement of Judge John D. Butzner created the 4th Circuit vacancy, that he would place "heavy emphasis" on judicial experience in making his selections.
Sources said earlier that Warner had been approached by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan C. Rose about including Starr's name on his list. Starr, a former Supreme Court law clerk and alumnus of Smith's own Los Angeles law firm, has no judicial experience.
Starr still can be nominated for the position by Justice, if it chooses. A White House selection committee, including the Attorney General and presidential aides Edwin Meese III and James A. Baker, is scheduled to meet Thursday, White House lawyer Fred Fielding said yesterday.
Bryan, 56, was a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge from 1962 to 1971, when he was appointed to the federal bench in Alexandria. He is a Democrat, although he won the federal judgeship with the backing of former representative Joel T. Broyhill, a Republican.
Clarke, 62, a Republican, is a former Richmond attorney and became a District Court judge in Norfolk in January 1975.
Williams, also a 62-year-old Republican, is a former federal magistrate who was appointed to the federal bench in western Virginia six years ago.