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San Francisco Superior Court Judge Carlos Bea was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, clearing the way for an easy assent to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The committee approved Bea on a 19-0 vote, sending his nomination to the full Senate for approval. If, as expected, Bea wins confirmation, he will become the fourth nominee of President Bush to make it to the Ninth Circuit. The first three — Judges Richard Clifton, Jay Bybee and Consuelo Callahan — were likewise not considered controversial. The two other pending nominees may have a rougher ride, however. “A few of my Republican friends are saying, ‘Wait a minute — what’s wrong with you?’” the 69-year-old Bea joked about his bipartisan support. A native of Spain, Bea received his law degree from Stanford University and spent 30 years in private practice before joining the superior court bench in 1990. He was nominated to the Northern District federal bench in 1992, but the nomination died when Bill Clinton was elected president. Bea was approved in just over five months — relatively quick for Ninth Circuit nominees. In fact, Bush is faring well with his Ninth Circuit nominees. Once Bea is approved, Bush will have appointed more judges to the Ninth Circuit in 2 1/2 years than Clinton did during his first five years in office. He’ll also match the number of Ninth Circuit judges appointed by his father in his four years in office. However, battles loom over the nomination of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl. She was voted out of committee along party lines (Republicans hold a 10-9 edge), but has not received a floor vote. She is opposed by many for, among other things, past stances on abortion. Another nominee may also encounter resistance. Department of the Interior Solicitor William Gerry Myers III faces opposition from environmental interests. There was speculation on the “How Appealing” Web site about whether Bea would be the oldest judge ever appointed to a federal appeals court. At 69, he will not — Charles Faris was 70 when he was appointed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. But Bea will become the third-oldest active judge on his new bench, behind only Stephen Reinhardt, 72, and Harry Pregerson, 79. There was no date set for a full vote in the Senate.

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