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Boyle Battle Highlights Judicial Nominee Fight

The pitched partisan battle over the federal bench continued Thursday as another of President Bush's renominated appellate judges set out to run the gauntlet of the Democratic filibuster.

Federal circuit court judge Terrence Boyle (search) is the latest symbol of partisan animosity surrounding the Senate's advise-and-consent function.

"It is my fervent hope that the committee will act expeditiously in sending Judge Boyle's nomination to the floor," Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., said during Boyle's first confirmation hearing since being nominated to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals by President George H.W. Bush in 1991.

President Clinton refused to renominate Boyle during his eight years in office despite the urging of then-North Carolina Republican Sen. Jesse Helms (search). Helms then blocked Clinton's nominees to the 4th Circuit, prolonging the standoff.

The second President Bush nominated Boyle and 10 others in 2001, but former North Carolina Democratic Sen. John Edwards (search) blocked Boyle's hearing for two congressional terms.

"Judge Boyle is the last one of those 11 to be given a hearing," Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday.

Civil rights and disability rights advocates label Boyle a reactionary.

"Terrence Boyle has demonstrated an unabiding hostility to civil rights cases, to women's rights issues, to cases involving the Americans With Disabilities Act (search), to voting rights cases," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights (search).

The judge dismissed the charges as a reckless distortion.

"What I think a more complete examination will show is a record of sensitivity to plaintiffs and to the underprivileged and for those who don't have a voice otherwise," Boyle said.

Boyle's critics say that in 20 years as a district judge, the 4th Circuit Court (search) has reversed Boyle's rulings more than 150 times.

"The basis for those reversals tend to be for his disregard, misapplication or misunderstanding of the law from above, the precedent of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals," Henderson said.

But South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham accused critics of misrepresenting the record. He said federal statistics show Boyle had been reversed only 92 times out of 1,200 cases — a reversal rate of 7.5 percent — below the national average of 9.7 percent.

"After 20 years and 12,000 cases, the American Bar Association unanimously agreed that you are well-qualified," Graham told Boyle during the hearing.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Major Garrett.