Kuhl May Be Next Nominee to Face Filibuster

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl (search) is poised to join Miguel Estrada (search) and Priscilla Owen (search) on the list of President Bush's judicial nominees to be filibustered.

Kuhl is vying for a spot on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (search), the most liberal, most overturned federal court in the United States. She has been waiting for a confirmation vote for two years.

"This is about pure and simple raw politics ... and a political agenda," said Sen. Rick Santorum (search), R-Pa., a Kuhl supporter.

Senate Republicans are bitter that Democrats have filibustered nominees they see as too conservative. Kuhl, a deputy solicitor general under former President Ronald Reagan and supervising civil judge in Los Angeles County, is no exception.

Kuhl's opponents say that as a pro-life Catholic and attorney, Kuhl argued to overturn Roe v. Wade. She supported tax-exempt status for Bob Jones University (search), which was criticized during the 2000 presidential campaign for its segregationist student social policies. She also dismissed an invasion of privacy case where a woman's breast exam was witnessed by a drug company salesman.

"She has repeatedly made stands against civil rights, women's right to choose, and we believe she is out of step with mainstream American thought," said Martha Swiller of Planned Parenthood (search) in Los Angeles.

But Kuhl has heavy support in California's legal circles, where 100 judges, many of them Democrats, have written Congress in support of her nomination.

Her backers say she is fair, even-handed and is being unduly criticized.

"[Kuhl's critics] have taken certain cases she's been involved in as a lawyer and have, from those, assumed at the end of the day she could not be fair, and I don't agree with them on that," said Gretchen Nelson of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

Civil rights attorney Leo Terrell, a member of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (search) and the American Civil Liberties Union (search), says Kuhl was amazingly fair during his racial bias case.

"Just because President Bush nominated her, the Democrats have taken this automatic position that she's a right-winger, that she's a conservative. This is partisan politics being played in the judicial arena," Terrell said.

Both of California's Democratic senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, oppose Kuhl's appointment, in part, because of her opposition to Roe v. Wade while a lawyer in the Reagan administration. Feinstein acknowledges, though, that she has never received more letters from sitting judges in support of a judicial candidate.

Kuhl's nomination passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote and is set to go to floor, but Democrats vow another filibuster.

Considering the 9th Circuit's reputation as the free-wheeling court that ruled unconstitutional the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance,  Kuhl's appointment would not only be a victory for Bush, but could alter the court's rulings.

Fox News' William LaJeunesse contributed to this report.