When Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter asked that Leslie Southwick’s nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals be taken off the Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda last month, it was an acknowledgment that after weeks of trying, Southwick just didn’t have the votes.

Although Republicans are expected to push his bid again after the July 4 break, the stalemate over the nomination is emblematic of the increasingly tough environment the Bush administration faces in getting federal judges onto the bench.

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