Boyle’s nomination was again returned to the President because it did not receive unanimous consent to stay pending in the Senate over the long recess. President Bush will have to renominate Boyle, as he did on Sept. 5, to keep his confirmation chances alive.
The Senate Judiciary Committee today failed to vote on Boyle’s nomination, passing up its last chance to move him out of committee before the Senate adjourns for the November election. The lack of action on Boyle and other appellate nominees has infuriated conservatives. The next chance for Boyle would be during a “lame duck” session of Congress after the election.
The Judicial Conference of the United States approved a new policy requiring “all federal courts to use conflict-checking computer software to identify cases in which judges may have a financial conflict of interest and should disqualify themselves.” This was prompted by “recent reports” that “several judges may have participated in matters in which they had a financial interest,” according to a memo sent to all federal judges in August.
President Bush formally renominates Terrence Boyle to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, following through on his Aug. 30 announcement. Senators Leahy and Kennedy both issue statements condemning the renomination of Boyle, citing his conflicts of interest.
The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the next several weeks that the Senate is in session are critical for Boyle. Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute said of Senate Republicans: “This may be their last bite at the apple for nominations like Boyle’s. But it sure seems to me this is not likely to go forward without a big controversy.” The paper’s Barbara Barrett also reports that, behind the scenes, Boyle’s former clerks have made more than 30 trips to Washington to push his nomination. One former clerk said, “I think we’re on the cusp of getting him a vote.” According to the paper, the White House wants to see Boyle confirmed immediately and “is expected to be bending ears in the Senate.” And Sen. Elizabeth Dole says she works on Boyle’s case “each and every day,” adding that she sees “growing and considerable support” among the Gang of 14 moderates. Dole said, “Certainly I would hope we would be able to get a vote in September.”
On Fox News Sunday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter addressed the Boyle nomination: “Well, I think it does have big problems. When you have a judge who has ruled on cases where there was stock of his own involved, yeah. He has given an explanation, that they were minor, that they were oversights, but there are a number of them. But let’s consider that. Again, it’s a matter of an evaluation and a matter of judgment, but I think that Judge Boyle ought to have an up or down vote in the Senate. Chances are, candidly, Chris, he’ll be filibustered, but so far as I’m concerned, as chairman, I’m going to move them right along one at a time and let the full Senate make its judgment.”
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Judge Boyle acknowledged errors on two of his financial disclosure reports, for which his accountant takes the blame, according to public documents received by CIR. In a June 19th letter to the financial disclosure committee of the federal judiciary, Boyle wrote: “It has recently come to my attention that there was an incorrect inclusion of a reference to ‘Quintiles stock’ in my 2001 and 2002 financial disclosure reports.” Boyle presided over a case involving Quintiles in 2001 while reporting stock holdings in the company. But in defending himself against conflict of interest charges, he has denied owning Quintiles stock during that time, contradicting his own financial filings. In explaining the apparent errors, Boyle enclosed a May 30th letter from his accountant, Raymond W. Edwards of RSM McGladrey, Inc. Edwards wrote that despite not remembering or keeping complete notes of the exact situation, Boyle clearly “did not actually own those shares during either of those years.” Edwards attributes the mistake on the 2001 report to a “learning curve” and a confusing entry in a previous report. Edwards says his office reported Boyle’s sale of the stock on June 30, 2002 because by then the accountants had probably realized Boyle did not own the stock and therefore used an arbitrary date to wipe it from the records. Edwards concluded: “It is clear to me that the mistake on both reports was mine.” Multiple examples of Boyle’s conflicts of interest are shown here, with supporting documents here and here.
Before adjourning after midnight for its August recess, the Senate sent the nominations of Judge Boyle and four other controversial judicial nominees back to the President. Bush will have to renominate them or drop them. If the President renominates Boyle when the Senate reconvenes in September, Boyle will still need a Senate floor vote for confirmation. This latest development is a result of a Senate technicality that during long recesses, all nominations must be returned to the President unless there is unanimous consent that they stay pending in the Senate. Though the President can easily just renominate his picks, sending them back to him signals opposition and forces the President to reaffirm his support or reconsider.
Also, frustrated by the lack of Senate action on Boyle and other controversial nominees, a conservative coalition vows to launch an “August Radio Campaign on Judges” to pressure the Republican leadership.