Court moves, good and bad

Appeals Court: With Democrats controlling Senate, Bush may have to move toward the center.

May 27, 2001

FIRST, SOME credit.

President Bush's renomination of Judge Roger L. Gregory to the federal appeals court was a splendid gesture that could help stop the bloodletting in the judicial-selection slugfest his fellow Republicans started eight years ago.

Judge Gregory had been named to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals bench by President Clinton through a recess appointment, after GOP senators held up his nomination, as they did with so many of the former president's picks. His renomination could heal some partisan wounds.

But Mr. Bush will have to re-think his plans for another vacancy on the 4th Circuit bench. He had been pushing Washington attorney Peter D. Keisler, but with Democrats suddenly in charge of the Senate, that appointment won't fly.

Both of Maryland's Democratic senators vigorously oppose Mr. Keisler. They now have the political muscle, as members of the Senate's majority party, to make their opposition stick.

The seat in question has a long Maryland tradition. It calls for an appointment from the president of someone possessing a distinguished record of service in Maryland. That's what Sen. Paul Sarbanes and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski demand.

Mr. Keisler doesn't fit the bill. He lives in Bethesda, but he isn't licensed to practice law in Maryland. His resume is long in work outside the state but woefully short in civic service to this state.

The Bush administration has been acting as though Mr. Keisler were the only Maryland conservative with the intellect to fill this seat.

Not so.

The White House could look at the federal bench in Maryland, where Judge Benson E. Legg sits. Or it could take a second look at Baltimore Circuit Judge William D. Quarles, whom the president's father thought was good enough to nominate for a federal judgeship in the waning days of his administration.

Mr. Bush must now inch toward the political center for his judicial appointments. There are plenty of conservative moderates in the GOP he could consider. But they must possess one qualification Mr. Keisler clearly lacks - a strong record of accomplishments in Maryland.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.