WASHINGTON — The GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved North Carolina judge Terrence R. Boyle's nomination to the federal Court of Appeals in a party-line vote.
Boyle, a U.S. District Court judge nominated for a seat on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., advances to the full Senate for confirmation on the 10-8 vote in committee.
Democrats have said that a party-line vote in committee leaves judicial nominees open to a filibuster, although they have not said whether they plan to block Boyle, a former aide to retired GOP Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina
Some senators and liberal groups have consistently opposed Boyle, arguing that he has been reversed by higher courts too many times and that he has ruled unfairly on civil rights, women's rights and employees' rights.
"I can't vote to approve this promotion to an even more powerful position," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). "It really appears that he's not a very good district court judge."
But Boyle has waited long enough, said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).
"He has now waited 14 years to come to this committee," Hatch said. "I have to say, he's an excellent judge. His reversal rate is less than the average; he has more than shown he's not only adequate, but he's very, very good. You might differ with him for any reason you might choose to do so, but you can't say he's a bad judge."
Boyle has been trying to win an Appeals Court seat since 1991, when President George H.W. Bush nominated him.