- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2000

Virginia Sen. Charles S. Robb tried to jump-start the nomination of Roger Gregory, who would be the first black judge to serve on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, with a news conference yesterday.
Republican leaders have delayed holding a nomination hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, arguing that the process for notifying local senators wasn't followed and saying there's not enough time to go through the process before the end of the legislative session.
Mr. Robb, though, said it's been done in the same short time period before. He and Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, both support the nomination of Mr. Gregory, a Virginia lawyer whose list of credentials goes on and on, to the court.
But in his remarks, Mr. Warner also seemed to say the Gregory nomination wasn't unusual in being held up, and he even cautioned reporters to make it clear in their stories that this is the way the Senate acts.
He pointed to the time his recommendation that would have resulted in the first woman on the 4th Circuit was delayed by the Democrat-controlled Senate for a year. That recommendation finally lapsed when President George Bush's administration ended.
Mr. Robb said the seat President Clinton nominated Mr. Gregory to has been vacant for 10 years. He said the appeals court, based in Richmond, is down to 10 of its 15 allotted judges, so it's time for new appointees.
Mr. Robb said the nomination has been delayed by Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, who thinks the seat should go to a North Carolinian.
But a spokesman for Mr. Helms said he has made his position clear that the 4th Circuit is working very efficiently now, and until the chief judge on the 4th Circuit asks for another judge, Mr. Helms won't support a new judge.
A spokeswoman said Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, has no plans to hold nomination hearings during the rest of this session.
Mr. Robb is in the middle of a Senate race, and his opponent, former Virginia Gov. George F. Allen, has also announced his support for Mr. Gregory.
"Governor Allen has always said Roger Gregory is an able and capable man," said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Allen campaign.
But Mr. Allen also wrote a letter to Mr. Hatch that, in addition to praising Mr. Gregory, accuses Democrats of playing politics with judicial nominations.
"If Chuck Robb really cared about Roger Gregory being a judge, he would be a judge right now," Mr. Murtaugh said.
Mr. Robb dismissed those charges.
"It frankly has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with fairness and merit and long-delayed justice," he said.

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