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The Senate on Friday voted overwhelmingly to confirm three of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, marking the administration’s six-month anniversary with its first successes in the tricky judicial selection process. Each of the nominees had strong support from Democrats, who hold a one-vote majority in the Senate, which certainly eased their way. Roger Gregory, confirmed for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals with a 93-1 vote on Friday, originally was nominated by then-President Bill Clinton, who late last year bypassed the Senate to give Gregory a temporary seat on the court. That move angered some Republicans, but Bush in May renominated Gregory for a lifetime seat on the 4th Circuit. Bush’s decision was largely seen as an olive branch toward Democrats. Lobbying by Virginia’s Republican Sens. John Warner and George Allen helped Gregory become the first African-American to serve on the Richmond-based appeals court. Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi cast the only negative vote on Gregory. Lott could not be reached to explain his reasons. A Lott spokesman said the senator voted against Gregory because he opposes all recess appointments. Richard Cebull and Sam Haddon won seats on the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana as a result of strong cooperation between the state’s two senators, Democrat Max Baucus and Republican Conrad Burns. Retirements in the past year left Montana with only one full-time federal judge, and the senators pushed hard to get him some relief, a fact noted by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., at a July 10 confirmation hearing. Cebull was confirmed 93-0, Haddon 95-0. Bush White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who heads the administration’s judge-picking team, says, “We’re pleased the Senate took action to confirm these very qualified nominees.” On Tuesday, Leahy will hold a second confirmation hearing, this one for 8th Circuit nominee William Riley. Both Nebraska senators, Republican Chuck Hagel and Democrat Ben Nelson, support Riley, who heads the litigation section of Omaha’s Fitzgerald, Schorr, Barmettler & Brennan. Two nominees for jobs at the Justice Department — Sarah Hart to run the National Institute of Justice and Deborah Daniels to head the Office of Justice Programs — will also be reviewed at the hearing. A Leahy spokesman said the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary had unanimously rated Riley “well-qualified” for the post. The ABA rated Gregory “qualified” and Cebull and Haddon each “well-qualified.” With the confirmation of Gregory, Cebull, and Haddon, there are 107 openings on federal courts around the country. Bush has 25 nominations pending.

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