An article yesterday about candidates for the federal appeals court seat being vacated by Judge Robert H. Bork should have said U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Rymer sits in Los Angeles (Published 1/16/ 88)

The resignation of Judge Robert H. Bork will leave conservatives on the closely divided federal appeals court here without their intellectual guiding force and may imperil their control of the influential circuit.

The 12-member circuit is now roughly split 7 to 5 between conservatives and liberals, although those divisions are not absolute.

With Bork's departure next month, it is possible the court, which for years was solidly dominated by liberals, could once again be evenly split if no replacement is confirmed this year and the next president is a Democrat.

"Bork's resignation makes his successor very pivotal," said Bruce Fein, a conservative legal scholar with the Heritage Foundation. " . . .They are the ones who are deciding the constitutionality of the War Powers Act, the independent counsel cases, those kinds of issues. It will be very critical to holding the line at least in a way that's somewhat favorable to the conservatives that the successor share the president's judicial philosphy."

But the Reagan administration, in considering Bork's successor, finds itself in a bind, with the presidential election in November and the Senate, which must vote on whether to confirm the replacement, in Democratic hands. A controversial nominee would have little chance of success.

"If they pick someone who's non-controversial, for example someone who's a district court judge now, and they do it quickly, it's certainly possible {for the nominee to be confirmed}," said a Senate Judiciary Commitee staff member. But, the aide warned, "They have a very narrow window" of opportunity.

Justice Department officials said they plan on moving swiftly to come up with a replacement for Bork, whose departure had long been rumored. They expressed confidence that they will be able to fill the vacancy and that Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will not delay consideration.

"Sen. Biden has indicated that everyone who's up there now, every nomination will have a vote," said Justice Department spokesman Terry Eastland. "We hope, we believe, that an outstanding candidate such as the ones we've appointed in the past to the D.C. Circuit will be confirmed by the full Senate."

Other department officals, however, were less sanguine that they will have the chance to replace Bork, the first of President Reagan's eight nominees to the appeals court here. (One, Antonin Scalia, was later elevated to the Supreme Court.)

"It's so late in the game that it would be unlikely for us to get someone through," said one official involved in judicial selection.

An additional constraint facing the administration is the fact that District lawyers and some members of the committee have complained that all of President Reagan's nominees to the appeals court here have been white men with few ties to the District.

Among those who have been mentioned as possible nominees are Assistant Attorneys General Charles J. Cooper and John R. Bolton; Solicitor General Charles Fried; former deputy solicitor general Carolyn Kuhl; U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Rymer of Sacramento, Calif.; former secretary of housing and urban development Carla Hills, and Ronald G. Carr of the Washington office of Morrison & Foerster.

With both Bork and Scalia gone, however, the court's conservative wing is left with what one litigator with extensive experience before the D.C. Circuit described as "a real vacuum of leadership on the right."

Bork's departure, said American University law Prof. Herman Schwartz, a liberal, "means that the intellectual leader of that movement is gone on the D.C. Circuit."

With the court generally divided 6 to 5 until the vacancy is filled, he said, "and since some of those six, like {Judge Kenneth H.} Starr and perhaps occasionally {Judge James L.} Buckley aren't as rigid as Bork was, it may mean that there may be some loosening up of the hard right swing of the circuit."

Fein agreed. "Buckley, {Judge Stephen F.} Williams, {Judge David B.} Sentelle -- they're not Bork, Scalia or even {Judge Douglas H.} Ginsburg when it comes to predictability of voting in a conservative philosophical sense," Fein said.

Reagan's other nominee to the court is Judge Laurence H. Silberman. Those viewed as on the liberal side are Chief Judge Patricia M. Wald and Judges Harry T. Edwards, Abner J. Mikva and Spottswood W. Robinson III. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg is seen as a moderate.