March 02, 2006

Crapo, Craig Defend Idaho 9th Circuit

Partisan block on Idaho nomineeunjustified

Washington DC â?? Today, Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig reiterated their support for Idaho nominee to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Randy Smith. Smithâ??s nomination is being obstructed by a Senate procedural hold after he was introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday by Crapo and Craig.Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) claims the seat should be filled by a Californian and says she will block the nomination of Smith indefinitely, denying the Senate an opportunity to consider the merits of the Smith nomination. â??Contrary to what my colleagues from California have said, the pedigree of this seat is quite mixed,â?? Craig said. â??It has been held by Washingtonians, Oregonians and Idahoans, as well as Californians. It would be a shame if such a highly-qualified judge was denied for such a questionable reason.â??â??This seat on the 9th Circuit has been an Idaho seat for 19 years and maintaining that seat by an Idahoan will only fulfill the status quo,â?? Crapo said. â??Judge Smith is a well-qualified nominee for this seat and this block is unjustified. Idahoans deserve a fair voice on the court and I urge his nomination be moved forward.â??The seat, which was vacated by Judge Stephen Trott, was created in 1935 and first held by Judge Bert Haney of Oregon. After Haney passed away, the seat was filled by Judge Homer Bone of Washington, next by Judge Frederick Hamely of Washington, and then by Judge Joseph Sneed of California. Following Sneedâ??s term, Trott filled the seat until 2004, when he claimed senior status. Although Judge Trott did spend part of his career practicing law in California, he was a resident of Virginia at the time of his nomination and he moved from Virginia to Idaho upon his confirmation to the 9th Circuit. The majority of cases before the 9th Circuit are heard by three-judge panels. Under the current system, with two judges from Idaho, a California judge is virtually guaranteed to sit on about 90 percent of panels, while an Idaho judge will sit on only one in five cases. If the seat Smith is nominated for were filled by a Californian, an Idaho judge would only sit on a panel for about ten percent of cases, while a California judge would participate in more than 90 percent of cases. Crapo and Craig said they are disappointed by efforts to block a well-qualified nominee and they appreciate the efforts by Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter to hold a hearing on Judge Smithâ??s nomination and to move forward with a Committee vote on the nomination in coming weeks.