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Smith: Probable?

After Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s trouble with his previous proposed nomination to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – the failed proposal for attorney William Myers III, whose ties to industry and agriculture proved too strong for the comfort of some senators – there are some indicators that the new nominee, Randy Smith, will fare better. (The two have been proposed for different seats.)

But these are complex waters.

On the plus side is Smith himself. He has a political enough background, serving as state Republican party chair in the early 90s (he was a good one, and not especially more partisan than the position would dictate). But he has gotten good reviews from a wide spectrum of reviewers in his role as judge, including strong comments from current state Democratic Chair Richard Stallings. He does not have Myers’ lobbying liabilities, has proven himself as a capable judge, and is likely to arouse no angry howl in Idaho, even from Democrats.

There is another issue, though: Is the seat “Idaho’s” – and should Craig be the senator nominating for it?

Technically, there are no representative state seats on the 9th (or any other) circuit. But to ensure some broad base of representation, the seats have traditionally been treated that way, and Idaho – on basis of population – should have one. Here’s the oddity: Senior Judge Stephen Trott, whose spot Smith would occupy, was a Californian when he was appointed, and later moved to Idaho. Leading Idaho to sorta “claim” the seat.

Which California, specifically its senators, want back. Senator Dianne Feinstein remarked:

“I would object to naming a judge from Idaho to a 9th Circuit seat that has been held traditionally by a Californian,” she wrote in a Nov. 22 e-mail to The Recorder. “There are plenty of very suitable people from our state and [President Bush] should choose a nominee from California.”

Judge Smith may want to relax a bit. The wait could be long – no fault of his own.

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