- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Following reports that Idaho’s U.S. senators had narrowed a search for a federal judicial appointment down to four men, the senators insist that they are interviewing both men and women.

“We both have legal backgrounds and are vetting the candidates appropriately to make the best recommendation for Idaho,” Sen. Mike Crapo said in a statement, The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Washington, reported (https://bit.ly/1GNxidn ) in a story on Friday.

On Tuesday, the newspaper reported that Crapo and fellow Republican Sen. Jim Risch were only interviewing four men despite applications from at least five prominent female attorneys, including the state’s U.S. attorney and a U.S. magistrate.

“I think it’s silly to think that simply because they are members of the profession from which a judge will be chosen, they have some keener insight than the collective membership of the bar,” said former U.S. Attorney for Idaho Betty Richardson. “The fact that they have been less than transparent and seemingly very insular is a real disappointment.”

In 1995, then Sens. Larry Craig and Dirk Kempthorne, both Republicans, created a bipartisan commission that included five Democrats and four Republicans to consider 38 candidates. The commission selected then state 6th District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, who was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in late 1995.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias tracks federal judicial nominations and said he is disappointed in the senators’ lack of transparency. “I think it is helpful that the senators are lawyers, but the people who know best about who would be the finest federal judge are the federal court practitioners,” he said.

Peg Dougherty, a Boise attorney and co-chair of the Judicial Recruitment Committee for Idaho Women Lawyers, noted that Crapo and Risch aren’t practicing attorneys.

“I also am concerned about their distance to Idaho,” Dougherty said. “They live and work inside the Beltway. So I’m concerned about their understanding of the people who are actively participating in the Idaho bar, and their ability to select the best candidate from Idaho practitioners.”

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, https://www.spokesman.com

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