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Two of Bush’s Judicial Nominees Move Forward

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved two of President Bush’s federal circuit court nominees on Thursday morning, despite a last-minute push by all but one of the committee’s Republicans to oppose the nomination of Helene White, a former Clinton nominee who has been criticized by conservative activists in the past.

The committee also voted out the nomination of Raymond Kethledge.

The votes came as part of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) ongoing stand-off with the White House over nominations, and many Democrats and Republicans believe the appointments will be the last to see serious action this year.

White’s nomination to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals was approved on an 11-8 vote, with only Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) joining the panel’s Democratic majority in approving Bush’s nominee.

White has become emblematic for conservatives of the shift away from hard-line ideological judges to more moderate picks advanced by the Bush administration in recent years.

White’s longstanding affiliations with Democrats have irritated some Senate Republicans. According to a May 22 Associated Press report, White gave some $2,300 to the presidential campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

“The Michigan vacancies on the 6th Circuit have proven a great challenge,” said Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “Judge White was first nominated by President Clinton to a vacancy on the Sixth Circuit more than 11 years ago, but the Republican-led Senate refused to act on her nomination.

“Hers was one of the scores of qualified judicial nominees pocket filibustered by Republicans. This year, President Bush reconsidered, and renominated her. I hope the Senate will follow his example and confirm Judge White and Mr. Kethledge to the last two vacancies on the Sixth Circuit.”

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