- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2005

Three judicial nominees from North Carolina had hearings yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee after waiting as long as four years under a blockade by Sen. John Edwards.

One of the judicial nominees, Terrence W. Boyle, currently the chief U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina, was first nominated nearly 15 years ago to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President George Bush. He did not receive a hearing before Mr. Bush was voted out of office.

Judge Boyle was nominated again on May 9, 2001, by the current President Bush, but his hearing was stalled by Mr. Edwards, his home-state senator and last year’s failed Democratic nominee for vice president.

With Mr. Edwards replaced by a Republican in November, Judge Boyle — along with two nominees for the district bench in North Carolina — had their hearings. Judge Boyle was the last of Mr. Bush’s first batch of 11 judicial picks nominated in 2001 to get a hearing.

Mr. Edwards delayed a vote on Judge Boyle in retaliation against Jesse Helms, the Republican senator from North Carolina who blocked several of President Clinton’s nominees to the Richmond-based 4th Circuit. Mr. Helms, in turn, was retaliating against Democrats for not confirming Judge Boyle — a former Helms Senate staffer — when he was first nominated in 1991.

“That’s part of what I have characterized as the escalation of the controversy over judges where I have said that I think both parties there share some of the blame,” Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, said during yesterday’s hearing.

Opposition to Judge Boyle also stems from his record on the bench.

Liberal groups have gone to great lengths to argue that Judge Boyle is more unacceptable than other Bush nominees — a clear indication that they think he should be filibustered.

“As troubling as many of the president’s appellate court nominations have been, Boyle’s nomination is among the worst,” said a report by People For the American Way (PFAW), which holds considerable sway over Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee. “His nomination should be rejected.”

In its analysis of Judge Boyle’s record and background, PFAW said he has the highest rate of overturned decisions of any nominee on the federal district court nominated to the higher appellate bench — placing that reversal rate at 12 percent.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, had tough questions for Judge Boyle yesterday.

“As you know, Mr. Boyle, your record raises a number of serious questions,” Mr. Kennedy said. “You’ve been reversed on appeal far more than any other district judge in the 4th Circuit. Often those reversals have come because you made the same mistake more than once.”

But Republicans said the PFAW information — and Mr. Kennedy’s questions — were off base.

Judge Boyle’s reversal rate is 7.5 percent, according to a Republican analysis of numbers provided by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. That would make Judge Boyle’s reversal rate lower than the national average of 9.7 percent.

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