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Obama nominates Arizona justice to U.S. appeals court

Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew D. Hurwitz is among four nominees to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals facing Senate confirmation.

November 03, 2011|By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew D. Hurwitz to a seat on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, his third proposal in recent weeks to fill vacancies on the overwhelmed Western appellate bench.

Hurwitz, 64, has been on the Arizona high court for eight years after a diverse career as a law clerk, a private practice litigator and partner in Phoenix's Osborn Maledon firm. He also was a law professor, a judge pro tempore and a senior staff member to three governors of the Grand Canyon State.

"Justice Hurwitz has proven himself to be not only a first-rate legal mind but a faithful public servant," Obama said in announcing the nomination. "It is with full confidence in his ability, integrity and independence that I nominate him to the bench of the United States Court of Appeals."

Hurwitz was chosen to fill the vacancy that will occur next month when former 9th Circuit Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder takes senior status, a semi-retirement in which federal judges carry a reduced caseload.

There are four other vacancies on the court, which has 29 authorized judgeships. The active judges, with help from many of the 18 seniors, handle upward of 12,000 cases a year appealed from the circuit's nine-state region.

Hurwitz, a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, has written some notable decisions during his time on the Arizona high court.

Among them was a 2005 ruling that the 1st Amendment's protection of political speech applied to the Tucson Citizen newspaper and a letter writer who urged readers to "proceed to the closest mosque and execute five of the first Muslims we encounter" every time a U.S. soldier is killed by insurgents in Iraq.

Hurwitz joins Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen, U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Nguyen and Los Angeles attorney Paul J. Watford as 9th Circuit nominees making their way through the contentious Senate confirmation process.

carol.williams@latimes.com

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