updated 1/10/2007 11:59:52 AM ET 2007-01-10T16:59:52

In a concession to the Senate's Democratic majority, President Bush has withdrawn four controversial federal appeals court nominees and submitted 33 picks for positions on the federal bench.

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The four Bush chose not to renominate were: William Haynes, William G. Myers III, Michael Wallace and Judge Terrence Boyle.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said only "consensus nominees" are likely to win confirmation under the new Democratic majority - a declaration that effectively doomed the chances for the four men whose appointments were left in limbo when the Senate adjourned last year for the elections.

"This reversal is one of the first tangible signs that the president heard and is heeding the message from November's election," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday in a statement.

Presidential disappointment
Deputy White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president was disappointed about the withdrawals.

"Each of these nominees was well-qualified to serve as judges and would have been confirmed if they had been given a fair, up-or-down vote in the Senate," Perino said. "Unfortunately, a few selected senators prevented these nominees from receiving fair consideration. The president is disappointed in this inaction, and hopes that the days of judicial obstructionism are beyond us."

Rejected nominees
Haynes is the Pentagon's top lawyer, and was an architect of the Bush's now-abandoned policy toward treatment of detainees in the war on terror. He had been tapped for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Boyle is a federal judge in North Carolina, and his appointment to the 4th Circuit provoked opposition from Democrats who cited his rulings in civil rights and disability cases, as well as his higher-than-average reversal rate by higher courts.

Myers, an Idaho Republican first nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2003, sparked opposition from environmental organizations and their allies among Senate Democrats.

A former solicitor at the Interior Department, Myers also worked as a lobbyist for cattle and mining interests. Groups that opposed him said he continued to favor policies that helped these groups, even after he left their employment.

Myers' fight for confirmation became even tougher last month, when a report in the Denver Post, based on public records, showed Myers was one of two dozen people to attend a dinner party with once-powerful lobbyist Jack Abramoff in September 2001. Myers had denied in a March 2005 letter ever meeting Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in an influence-peddling scandal in January of last year.

Wallace's appointment to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew opposition from Democrats, civil rights groups and the American Bar Association.

Lars H. Liebeler, a Washington lawyer, said in a telephone interview that Boyle, unlike Wallace, Haynes and Myers, did not submit a letter asking to be withdrawn but was told of the president's intentions.

Three of the 33 other nominations were ones the Senate did not act upon last year. This batch of judicial nominations included:

- Leslie Southwick of Mississippi for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

- Norman Randy Smith of Idaho for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

- Thomas M. Hardiman of Pennsylvania for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

- Peter D. Keisler of Maryland for the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

- Debra Ann Livingston of New York for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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