May 26, 2006

Senate approves White House aide for appeals court

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed
White House lawyer Brett Kavanaugh to be a federal appeals
court judge, despite scathing criticism from a top Democrat who
said he was unfit for the job.

With the Senate's 57-36 vote, Kavanaugh, 41, will take a
seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia,
which Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called "the second most
important federal court in our country."

Kavanaugh has worked in the George W. Bush White House
since 2001 and previously was an aide to special counsel
Kenneth Starr, who played a central role in the impeachment of
President Bill Clinton.

Kavanaugh, a Yale Law School graduate, also served as a
clerk for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, argued that Kavanaugh was a
"youthful partisan who lacks the credentials" for the

Republicans have said that Kavanaugh is qualified for the
position and President Bush has a right to pick judges who
share his conservative philosophy.

Republican activists hope the White House can fill vacant
court seats with conservatives as a way to motivate the party's
core voters ahead of the November congressional elections.

But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee
Republican, has been reluctant to rekindle a partisan standoff
over courts that nearly immobilized the Senate last year, and
has not set votes for other more controversial nominees.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan)