X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Chief Judge William Wilkins, who has presided over the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit for the past four years, sent President George W. Bush a letter last week announcing his plans to step down in June. “I’ve had it for a good while now and it’s time to move on,” Wilkins tells Legal Times. Though Wilkins, a South Carolina native who will turn 65 in March, will still hear cases as a senior judge, his quasi-retirement creates a fourth official vacancy on the 15-member bench. (Technically, there are five openings, but Judge H. Emory Widener Jr., who announced plans to retire in 2003, has pledged to stay active until the nominee for his seat — Defense Department general counsel William Haynes II — is confirmed.) The large number of vacancies during a Republican administration is particularly striking given the 4th Circuit’s reputation as one of the most stalwart conservative courts in the nation. The circuit, which covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina, also is the key appellate arena for the administration’s terrorism cases, largely prosecuted in the Eastern District of Virginia. “You’d think they’d want to fill them and fill them as quickly as possible,” says Arthur Hellman, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Though the Bush administration has tried to fill a few open seats, it has faced stiff opposition even during the Republican-controlled Congress. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle’s nomination to the 4th Circuit has languished since 2001, and senators have blocked Haynes’ confirmation over questions about his involvement with the Justice Department’s infamous “torture memo.” It’s unlikely the administration will fare any better under the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress. So the question some court watchers are asking is whether future picks to the 4th Circuit could inch this reliably conservative bench closer to the center. “A lot of people have said this is a lost opportunity for the Bush administration, because it has been considered quite a conservative court, and they haven’t been able to confirm their nominees,” says Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.