Bush Shifts Appeals Court Nominee to Satisfy Senate Democrats

President Bush on Tuesday shifted a controversial federal appeals court nominee from one opening to another to satisfy Senate Democrats.

In a nod to the Senate's new Democratic leadership, Bush withdrew the nomination of Norman Randy Smith of Idaho for one seat on the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and nominated him for a different seat.

Federal appeals court seats traditionally stay in the hands of judges from the same states. Bush nominated Smith to a 9th Circuit seat held by a judge who lived in Idaho but previously had lived in California.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a Judiciary Committee member, threatened to block the Smith nomination, contending the seat was a California seat. She argued that if Smith were confirmed, California would be underrepresented on the nation's largest federal appeals court.

Only last week Bush resubmitted Smith's name to the Senate for the California seat, which had been held by Judge Stephen Trott, On Tuesday he withdrew that nomination and nominated Smith to replace Thomas G. Nelson of Idaho.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., welcomed the move, saying that Bush had "avoided a needless fight over a judicial nominee."