Of all George W. Bush’s nominees to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Milan Smith Jr. is definitely making a bid for most moderate.

Smith drew a torrent of opposition from Republican-appointed colleagues over his decision last year to allow a suit against John Ashcroft to go forward. The case, brought by a Muslim American who claims the Justice Department abused a material witness statute to lock him up, drew a call for en banc review, which failed.

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