Bush Pushing Controversial Judicial Nominees in Senate

Bucking opposition in the Senate, President Bush on Wednesday nominated five people for the U.S. Court of Appeals, including one whom Democrats have threatened to block with a filibuster.

In a statement released in Tennessee where Bush was attending a political fundraiser, the White House said the president was nominating Terrence Boyle of North Carolina and William James Haynes II of Virginia to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; Michael Brunson Wallace of Mississippi for the Fifth Circuit; and William Gerry Myers III of Idaho and Norman Randy Smith of Idaho for the Ninth Circuit.

In July, Boyle acknowledged missing the appearance of a conflict of interest in four cases in which he is accused of issuing rulings involving litigants in whose companies his family held stock. Boyle said then that his aides, who do routine screening of cases for conflicts of interest, missed the appearance in these instances.

"These situations were an oversight, an inadvertent mistake," Boyle wrote in a letter responding to questions by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

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"Accordingly, I unknowingly and unintentionally participated in these cases while I held a minimal number of shares in one of the parties," Boyle added. "Whatever minor financial interest I may have had in the case in no way affected my decision-making or the outcome of the case."

It was not clear whether Boyle's letter improved his prospects for confirmation, but Bush's renomination of Boyle was a sign that he had not given up on his effort to get him approved.

Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada has said his party would filibuster Boyle's nomination if it came to the floor.

Also in July, Haynes, an architect of the Bush administration's policy toward detainee treatment that was later abandoned, told a Senate panel that reversing the policy was the "right thing to do."

Haynes told the panel that he was glad the Justice Department reversed an opinion he had requested that cleared the way for the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Requesting the opinion as the Pentagon's top lawyer in 2002 "was a mistake," Haynes said.

It was unclear whether Haynes' revised outlook on the treatment of detainees solidified already shaky Senate support for his nomination. Reid left open the prospect of blocking Haynes' nomination with a filibuster.