- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, facing the threat of a new wave of judicial filibusters, agreed yesterday to hold a second confirmation hearing for a White House lawyer nominated to the nation’s second highest court.

Several Democrats have raised concerns about Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was nominated nearly three years ago to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and went through a confirmation hearing two years ago.

Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid indicated that Democrats are considering a filibuster of Mr. Kavanaugh or District Judge Terrence Boyle, who has been nominated three times to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

Mr. Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, who has won raves from both sides of the aisle for running the often acrimonious Judiciary Committee fairly, said a new hearing next week might alleviate the concerns of Democrats on the committee. Also, the group of seven Democrats who brokered a compromise over past judicial filibusters have asked for a second hearing.

“What I do not want to have happen is a filibuster,” Mr. Specter said. Mr. Kavanaugh will appear before the committee for a hearing Tuesday, and the panel is scheduled to vote on his nomination Thursday.

On Tuesday, Mr. Reid told reporters that Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination risked a filibuster if it came to the Senate floor without a second hearing. Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said he’s concerned because in the 34 months since Mr. Kavanaugh was nominated, his rating by the American Bar Association was lowered, though everyone who evaluated his nomination still says he is “qualified” or “well-qualified.”

Mr. Reid said he’s even more concerned about Judge Boyle.

Of particular concern to Mr. Reid was the case Bursell v. General Electric Co. The lawmaker told reporters that Judge Boyle owned stock in the company when he ruled in its favor.

“If this guy deserves to be a federal district court judge, I don’t know what a federal district court judge is all about,” Mr. Reid said. “He not only shouldn’t be a trial court judge as he is, but to think that he should be elevated to a Circuit Court of Appeals is outrageous.”

But in a letter to the editor of the Raleigh News & Observer in North Carolina, the lawyer who represented plaintiff Kenneth Bursell took exception to the accusation, first made public at Salon.com. The lawyer, Andy Whiteman, said that Judge Boyle handed down six rulings in that case and that four of them favored his client.

“In any event, I do not believe that his ownership of less than $15,000 of GE stock creates even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” Mr. Whiteman wrote. “In 2004 GE had $134 billion in revenue.”

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