WASHINGTON – In a concession to the Senate's new Democratic majority, four of President Bush's appeals court appointees have asked to have their nominations withdrawn, Republican officials said Tuesday.
These officials said that William Haynes, William Myers and Terrence Boyle had all decided to abandon their quest for confirmation. Another nominee, Michael Wallace, let it be known last month that he, too, had asked Bush to withdraw his nomination.
Haynes is the Pentagon's top lawyer, and was an architect of the Bush's now-abandoned policy toward treatment of detainees in the war on terror. He had been tapped for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Boyle is a federal judge in North Carolina, and his appointment to the 4th Circuit provoked opposition from Democrats who cited his rulings in civil rights and disability cases, as well as his higher-than-average reversal rate by higher courts.
William G. Myers III, nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sparked opposition from environmentalist organizations and their allies among Senate Democrats.
Wallace's appointment to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew opposition from Democrats, civil rights groups and the American Bar Association.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said only "consensus nominees" are likely to win confirmation under the new Democratic majority -- a declaration that effectively doomed the chances for the four men whose appointments were left in limbo when the Senate adjourned last year for the elections.
One Senate Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, issued a statement saying, "This reversal is one of the first tangible signs that the president heard and is heeding the message from Novembers election."
But Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, countered for conservatives. "In support of their own agenda of liberal judicial activism, Senate Democrats have engaged in unprecedented measures of obstruction against the president's highly qualified nominees," he said.
Several Republican officials said the White House was likely to make the announcement later in the day.
They said Bush also intends to appoint 33 other judicial nominees, including three whose appointments were not acted on by the Senate in 2006.
The officials who described the developments did so on condition of anonymity, saying they did not want to pre-empt a formal announcement.