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The Bush administration intends to nominate San Francisco Superior Court Judge Carlos Bea and Third District Court of Appeal Justice Consuelo Callahan to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to several sources. The Justice Department and the FBI have been interviewing people about both, according to sources who have been contacted. There is no word on when an announcement will be made. “I have nothing to say at the present time,” Bea said. Callahan did not return a phone call seeking comment. Word of the developments come on the heels of President Bush’s renomination Tuesday of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl and Jay Bybee, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, to the 9th Circuit. Both Bea, 68, and Callahan, 52, got their undergraduate degrees at Stanford University. Bea obtained his law degree there; Callahan got hers from McGeorge School of Law. Callahan was a 10-year prosecutor for the San Joaquin County district attorney’s office, focusing on major felony prosecutions. She served on the Stockton municipal court bench from 1986 to 1992, when Gov. Pete Wilson appointed her to the San Joaquin County Superior Court bench. She was the first woman and first Hispanic to serve there, and in 1996 Wilson elevated her to the Court of Appeal. Bea was appointed to the San Francisco bench in 1990 by Wilson. Prior to that, he had been a longtime San Francisco solo attorney. He played on the Cuban national basketball team in the 1952 Olympics. Bea was nominated to the Northern District federal bench by the first President Bush, but the nomination died when President Clinton took office. He is also believed to have applied to the Northern District spot given to Judge Jeffrey White. They would be Bush’s first non-white appointees to the 9th Circuit bench — both are Hispanic. Neither is expected to be as controversial as Kuhl, who is opposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. It would also mean each of Bush’s 9th Circuit nominees in California come from the state court bench, two of whom would be making the unusual climb from state trial judge to 9th Circuit — one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. Bea’s age also is unusual. At 68, he is older than all but five current 9th Circuit judges. Boxer has not returned a “blue slip,” a kind of consent form, on Kuhl. She has expressed concerns about Kuhl’s record as a Justice Department lawyer, namely, signing briefs that questioned the pro-choice decision Roe v. Wade and another questioning the Internal Revenue Service’s decision to revoke the tax-exempt status of racially segregated Bob Jones University. Bybee’s nomination is supported by both senators from Nevada, where he would sit. As the assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel, Bybee is the administration’s constitutional adviser, helping shape legislation and policy. He is on leave from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he taught at the William S. Boyd School of Law. Prior to the November elections, the chief counsel for Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that Kuhl would likely get a hearing if Republicans took control of the Senate. They have. Usually, home state senators can use blue slips as a form of veto power over a president’s nominees. If Republicans insist on getting Kuhl a hearing, it could set up a battle not only over her nomination, but over the blue slip policy itself. Representatives for Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., declined to comment on Bea or Callahan, citing a policy of not commenting on potential nominees until they are announced by the White House. The White House also declined to comment. “When we have an announcement to make, we’ll make it,” spokesman Taylor Griffin said. Just one Bush nominee to the country’s largest appellate court, Judge Richard Clifton of Hawaii, has been confirmed. The renominations of Kuhl and Bybee were among several announced Tuesday by the White House, including controversial nominees such as Miguel Estrada of Virginia, Priscilla Owen of Texas and Charles Pickering of Mississippi. Pickering’s renomination took observers by surprise. A close friend of Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., Pickering is likely to inspire battles during the confirmation process. Two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Schumer and Richard Durbin, have already promised to take all measures to oppose the judge’s nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, including a filibuster.

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