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It received minimal press coverage, but liberal interest and civil rights groups are keeping a watchful eye on the White House’s latest nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit: Mississippi lawyer Michael Wallace, a conservative with close ties to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.). Wallace, who was nominated Feb. 9, has been general counsel to the Mississippi Republican Party for 15 years and worked with the then Senate majority leader during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. Wallace also clerked for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. One Republican lobbyist with ties to Mississippi says the Bush administration has been sitting on the nomination for some time, but held off on announcing it in 2005 due to the two vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. Marion Edwyn Harrison of the conservative Free Congress Foundation suggests that the nomination is likely to cause a battle and give left-leaning groups a chance to maintain momentum on the issue of conservative judicial nominations. Elliot Mincberg, senior vice president of the liberal People For the American Way, says he is “extremely troubled” by Wallace. “It’s particularly distressing that [President Bush] nominated Wallace, who is known in particular for his troubling, anti-civil rights views,” says Mincberg, adding that his group has yet to fully examine the nominee’s record. One example of concern involves Wallace urging the Reagan administration to support Bob Jones University, a then segregated private school, in a case before the Supreme Court.
Joe Crea can be contacted at [email protected].

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