The D.C. Bar's governing board voted yesterday to send a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee protesting the fact that local lawyers and judges were not consulted about the nomination of Stephen F. Williams, a University of Colorado law professor, to a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals here.
The bar's board of governors voted 10 to 1 at its monthly meeting to send a letter to committee Chairman Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) similar to a Nov. l4 letter expressing "grave concern" about the procedures used in nominating former senator James L. Buckley to a position on the court. Buckley's appointment was confirmed Dec. 17.
Both Williams and Buckley had originally been considered for positions on other appeals courts and had their nominations shifted to the D.C. Circuit after incurring some regional opposition. That switch meant that the American Bar Association, which reviews the qualifications of judicial nominees, did not consult with District lawyers and judges, as it would have had the nomination originally been intended for the court here.
The decision to send the letter reflects the continuing concern of many members of the bar that the D.C. Circuit, which is generally described as the second most important court in the country, is becoming a dumping ground for candidates whose nominations meet with opposition elsewhere. While senators can generally block a nomination from their region, that problem does not come up in nominations to the appeals court here because the District has no senators.
At a meeting earlier this year with Peter Wallison, the incoming White House counsel, bar President Frederick B. Abramson and President-elect Paul L. Friedman also expressed concern that no local lawyers had been chosen for the court.
"We're a bar with a lot of members . . . . We are not contacted and want to be involved in the process," board member Ann Macrory said at yesterday's meeting.
Board member Marna S. Tucker said that failing to protest the procedures used in the Williams nomination would "make it look political . . . like we just zeroed in on Buckley." Both men are considered conservatives, but Buckley is far better known than Williams, an expert in administrative and agency law.