WASHINGTON — As a five-week filibuster continues over one appeals court nominee, the Senate managed to confirm another one Thursday: a former Utahn to a West Coast appeals court that Republicans say is too liberal.
Jay Bybee, a Brigham Young University graduate who has been teaching law at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, was confirmed by a 74-19 vote to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Democrats allowed that vote, even though they are filibustering to block the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. They are also blocking floor consideration of several other conservative appeals court nominees.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has charged that Democrats are blocking most appeals court nominees they suspect may be pro-life on abortion.
Helping Bybee is that he is from the home state of Senate Democratic Whip Harry Reid, D-Nev., and that he was nominated to a court where liberals are viewed to have a safe majority. Meanwhile, Estrada, for example, is viewed as a vote that could swing his closely divided appeals court from liberal to conservative.
Hatch said, "We are all familiar with the 9th Circuit's Pledge of Allegiance ruling this past summer, and the 9th Circuit's high reversal rate by the Supreme Court is well documented. . . . No doubt the 9th Circuit has some of the nation's most intelligent judges, but some cannot seem to follow the law."
Hatch said, "We need judges who are committed to applying and upholding the law. I firmly believe that professor Bybee represents this type of judge."
Bybee graduated with honors from the BYU law school and graduated magna cum laude from BYU with a bachelor's degree in economics.
He is currently on leave from the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV, where he has been a professor since the school's founding in 1999. He also previously taught law at Louisiana State University.
He has held several posts with the Justice Department and also worked for the prestigious law firm of Sidley & Austin.