Bush nominates Michigan appellate judge to 6th Circuit

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writer



President Bush nominated a Michigan appellate judge and a federal prosecutor to the federal bench Tuesday in a deal with the state's Democrats that will break a long impasse over judicial nominations.

Bush nominated Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Helene White to serve on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy of Detroit to fill the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for Michigan's Eastern District.

As part of the compromise, the White House withdrew Murphy's nomination to the 6th Circuit and nominated White for that post. Murphy was then nominated to the district court seat.

White, Murphy and Raymond Kethledge, a Troy, Mich., lawyer who was previously nominated to fill another vacancy on the 6th Circuit, are expected to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In a statement, Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said they were "pleased that, after so many years of delay and frustration, a new willingness by the White House to engage in meaningful consultations with us has resulted in nominees who will hopefully have strong bipartisan support in the Senate."

White, who is married to Levin's cousin, was nominated to the 6th Circuit by President Clinton in January 1997. The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee kept White's nomination pending for four years, longer than any nominee in Senate history.

The agreement could help resolve a long-standing fight over Michigan judicial nominees.

During the Clinton administration, Michigan Republican Sen. Spencer Abraham blocked the nominations of White and Detroit attorney Kathleen McCree Lewis, angering Democrats.

Following Bush's election in 2000, Levin and Stabenow led filibusters against several Bush judicial nominees from Michigan in response to the Republicans' refusal to hold hearings on White and Lewis.

In 2006, two Bush nominees _ Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Henry Saad and Wayne County Circuit Judge Daniel P. Ryan _ withdrew their nominations after extensive delays.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the agreement "a significant development that can lead to filling the last two vacancies on the Sixth Circuit before this year ends."

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