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President Bush officially nominated California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday. “Well, I think it’s great,” said 3rd U.S. District Court of Appeal Justice Vance Raye, a longtime friend. “I don’t think he could do much better than Justice Brown.” The announcement had been expected since earlier this month, when reports surfaced that the FBI and Justice Department were conducting background checks. “I am honored to be considered for the D.C. Circuit,” Brown said in a statement released by her office. “If I have the opportunity to serve, it would be a privilege to join such a distinguished court.” Whether Brown is in for a bruising confirmation battle similar to that of fellow D.C. Circuit nominee Miguel Estrada remains to be seen. But Raye said Brown can handle it. “I think she’s quite resilient. I think she’s quite tough. I think she appreciates the nature of the process and how it works in the political context. I think she’d be prepared for any conflict,” Raye said. “If there’s any justice in this world, she’ll be confirmed with acclamation.” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge who has gotten to know Brown over the years, said she will be able to handle the transformation from state to federal law. O’Scannlain pointed to his 9th Circuit colleague Susan Graber, a former member of the Oregon Supreme Court. “Justice Graber … made the transition seamlessly, and I don’t see anything different for Justice Brown,” O’Scannlain said. “She is a very impressive judge when you read her opinions, and I’ve read several just in the normal course of being a 9th Circuit judge,” O’Scannlain said. “They’ve been very thorough, well researched and persuasive.” Brown has been widely seen as a possible Bush pick for the U.S. Supreme Court should a vacancy occur, and the nomination to the D.C. Circuit only adds to that speculation. Three of the current justices first served on the D.C. Circuit, including Clarence Thomas, who was there just a year before the first Bush placed him on the high court. “Ninety percent of the D.C. Circuit never makes it to the Supreme Court,” said Hastings College of the Law professor Vikram Amar. But, “if you’re going to go to the Supreme Court, it’s much easier to go from a federal circuit court [than a state court].” Some have wondered why Brown would leave the visibility of the California Supreme Court for the D.C. Circuit. Though the court gets cases that go to the core of the federal government’s powers, judges on the circuit arguably have lower visibility and hear limited types of appeals. “It’s a very different kind of a docket. You get a lot of federal administrative law cases, agency cases,” Amar said. On the other hand, Amar added, “There’s life tenure on [the D.C. Circuit] in a way that there’s not with the California Supreme Court. … You have more clerks, better clerks and more resources.” A spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he had “no information” on whether a battle is expected. “It’s obviously going to be more difficult to hold up a woman of color, politically,” Amar said. “But they did it with Miguel Estrada, a Latino man.” Brown will likely stay on the court until the confirmation process, which could take several months or more, is completed. The gubernatorial recall election, set for Oct. 7, will likely determine who selects Brown’s replacement. Brown was at the University of Virginia on Friday, where she’s pursuing an LL.M. degree, and wasn’t available for comment.

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