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Friday, March 03, 2006 

Judges and Senate Politics

Senator Feinstein (D-CA) will block the nomination of Idaho Judge Randy Smith to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Feinstein and her fellow Cali (but non-Judiciary Committee member) Senator Boxer are blocking the nomination because they want the seat to go to someone from California. There is a tradition that replacements are from the same state as the retiring judge, but what about this...
Smith was picked by President Bush in December to replace Judge Stephen Trott, who moved to Idaho from California after his appointment in 1988.
That throws an interesting wrench into the old tradition argument.

I'm usually fine with these somewhat strange traditions that have developed in our political system, but this situation just seems stupid. What do Feinstein and Boxer think this will accomplish? Even if President Bush picks a Californian judge, it's going to be another conservative. There are currently four vacant seats on the Ninth Circuit.The Ninth has a lot of unique and distinctive problems, mostly because of its size (both in area and population). Blocking a judge solely because of his home state is stupid, especially when the court in question (which is already dysfunctional) has four vacancies.

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