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As promised, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee went forward with a confirmation hearing for Peter Keisler, nominated to the 11th seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, on Aug. 1, just 33 days after Keisler’s nomination. Senate Democrats saved most of their criticism for the pace of the confirmation process rather than the nominee himself. A letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) from an alliance of liberal groups noted that of the past seven nominees to the D.C. Circuit, the shortest time between nomination and hearing was 71 days. “It appears we’re trying to break the land-speed record” for judicial nominations, said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Democrats and their supporters have argued that Republicans are moving too quickly to allow an adequate investigation into Keisler’s background, particularly his work in the White House Counsel’s Office in the Reagan administration. Meanwhile, Keisler, who currently heads the Justice Department’s Civil Division, easily deflected questions about his awareness of the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages deal (he knew nothing before the scandal became public, he said), a 1987 comment in which he declared his old boss Judge Robert Bork to be “in the mainstream” (he doesn’t agree with Bork on every issue), and his role in providing justification for the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program (he was out of the loop until the program was disclosed).
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected]

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