President Bush on Wednesday nominated the government's chief criminal prosecutor, Michael Chertoff, to be a federal appeals court judge.

Chertoff lives in New Jersey, and the state's two senators, both Democrats, quickly praised the nomination.

If confirmed by the Senate, Chertoff would serve on the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles cases for New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands.

Chertoff was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey and an attorney in private practice before Bush brought him to Washington as head of the Justice Department's criminal division. He has been the administration's top anti-terrorism prosecutor.

Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg, both D-N.J., called Chertoff "a highly intelligent and competent lawyer with a long and impressive record of public service."

They expressed confidence that Chertoff "will be forthcoming about his views and judicial philosophies during the confirmation process."