The New Jersey Law Journal reports that the two Democratic Senators from New Jersey, Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, are upset about President Bush’s decision to nominate Shalem Stone to the seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that opened when Justice Alito was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
The senators were unhappy about being shut out of the selection process and about President Bush abandoning the presumptive nominee, District of New Jersey Judge Noel Hillman, whom both senators had approved for promotion.
“The sudden manner in which the previous consensus nominee for this slot was withdrawn and the uncooperative unilateral manner in which this [new] nomination was made certainly raises serious concerns,” says Menendez spokesman Afshin Mohamadi.
Bush may have had concerns about the confirmation process for Hillman, who was the lead prosecutor in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and headed the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section. The hearings could have become a forum for Democratic inquisition into why some corruption matters were not investigated vigorously.
Stone, by comparison, is a hands-on litigator with little political baggage.