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Complaining that the confirmation process for federal judgeships is “broken,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl on Thursday took her name out of the running for a seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Women’s and abortion rights groups had led the opposition to Kuhl’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate, saying she was too conservative for the 9th Circuit, which Republicans regularly accuse of being too liberal. Democrats, including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, blocked a full vote on her nomination. Kuhl has been in limbo for more than three years. In a statement, she expressed frustration with battles in Congress over President Bush’s nominees. “I believe that those who opposed me in the confirmation process did so to achieve political goals rather than because of personal animus, and I bear no personal grudge,” she said in a written statement. “The judicial confirmation process for the federal courts is broken, to the detriment of the judicial branch. I urge political leaders and the legal community to seek a solution.” Senate Democrats have used filibusters, threats and other procedural tactics to block several of Bush’s court nominees. Nearly 200 others have been approved by the Senate. Democrats filibustered Kuhl after she was nominated in June 2001, and a cloture vote on Nov. 14, 2003, failed. Since last month’s elections, when Republicans increased their majority in the Senate, conservatives have expressed renewed hope that they will be able to win confirmation for Bush’s judges. There’s even been talk of a so-called “nuclear option” — a rules change, which Vice President Dick Cheney would have to approve — that would eliminate filibusters over judicial nominations. Reached in her chambers Thursday, Kuhl declined to elaborate on her decision. “I just am a student of our court and our judicial system … and the politics of things like the nuclear option are so far above my head,” she said. Kuhl’s withdrawal came on the same day that Bush announced he intends to re-nominate 20 people for federal judgeships who did not receive up or down votes in the Senate. That list includes William Myers III, who was also tapped for the 9th Circuit, and California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, whom Bush wants on the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

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