Dennis Cook  /  AP
Judge Terrence Boyle has been nominated to the U.S. Fourth Circuit.
updated 6/16/2005 12:51:44 PM ET 2005-06-16T16:51:44

The GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday sent North Carolina judge Terrence Boyle’s nomination to the U.S. Appeals Court for confirmation on a party-line vote, leaving Boyle vulnerable to a possible Democratic filibuster.

Boyle, a U.S. District Court judge who wants a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., advances to the full Senate for confirmation on the 10-8 partisan vote in committee.

Democrats have said that a party-line vote in committee leaves judicial nominees open to a filibuster, although they have not said whether they plan to block Boyle, a former aide to retired GOP Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina

Some senators and liberal groups have consistently opposed Boyle, arguing that he has been reversed by higher courts too many times and that he has ruled unfairly on civil rights, women’s rights and employee’s rights.

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“I can’t vote to approve this promotion to an even more powerful position,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. “It really appears that he’s not a very good district court judge.”

But Boyle has waited long enough, said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

“He has now waited 14 years to come to this committee,” Hatch said. “I have to say, he’s an excellent judge, his reversal rate is less than the average, he has more than shown he’s not only adequate but he’s very very good. You might differ with him for any reason you might choose to do so, but you can’t say he’s a bad judge.”

Boyle has been trying to win an Appeals Court seat since 1991, when he was nominated by the first President Bush.

After Democrats killed the nomination, Helms blocked all of President Clinton’s judicial nominations from North Carolina for eight years. In retaliation, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., refused to let the Judiciary Committee consider the nomination of Boyle from 1998-2004.

Edwards’s hold ended after he was replaced by freshman Sen. Republican Richard Burr.

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