Fourth and long

In previous a post, I noted how badly the Bush administration has fared when it comes to placing restained conservative judges on the Fourth Circuit. Part of the fault lies with the Senate, which has failed to confirm Jim Haynes and Terrence Boyle. However, the administration has also been too inclined to nominate non-conservatives and, more recently, has failed to nominate anyone to fill the vacancy left by one of the nation’s outstanding conservative jurists, J. Michael Luttig.

The National Law Journal reports on how territorial disputes and the obstructionist mentality of some Senators whose states fall within the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit have become major impediments to the selection of a successor to Luttig, as well as a successor to Judge Francis Murnaghan who died almost six years ago. Murnaghan was a Maryland judge, so the administration must contend with the state’s two liberal Democratic Senators. In the case of Luttig’s slot, the squabble is between the Republican Senators from Virginia and North Carolina.

And that squabbling is only the first impediment to filling this vacancy with a conservative of something approaching Luttig’s caliber. Assuming that the vacancy eventually goes to a Virginian, the administration likely would need to look past the recommendations of Senator Warner — he of the gang of 14. Hopefully, Senator Allen, a serious conservative, will step up to the plate and assist the administration in selecting a worthy successor to Judge Luttig.


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