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Archive for Sunday, December 12, 1999

ROBERTS TO FIGHT CLINTON COURT APPOINTMENT

December 12, 1999

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J-W Wire Reports

Denver -- Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and GOP colleagues from other states intend to fight President Clinton's nomination of a longtime Democratic ally to the federal appeals court that serves Kansas.

Roberts disclosed his position to The Topeka Capital-Journal regarding Clinton's nominee, Denver lawyer James Lyons, to be a judge of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The senators, including one from Colorado and one from Oklahoma, said Lyons shouldn't be a judge because he allegedly had a key role in covering up the scandal of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the Arkansas real estate deal known as Whitewater.

Other critics of the nomination, including a former political adviser to Clinton, have called it a political payoff. Lyons long has been active in Democrat politics and reportedly has been a friend of the Clintons for 20 years.

The court is one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. The Denver-based 10th Circuit serves Kansas and five other states.

"Senator Roberts questions whether he (Lyons) will be able to remove himself from partisan politics," a spokeswoman for Roberts said.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., hasn't taken a position on Lyons' nomination because the senator hasn't had an opportunity to review it, a spokesman said.

Clinton nominated Lyons in September to fill a vacancy on the court.

The Clintons picked Lyons during the 1992 presidential campaign to investigate their roles in Whitewater when news reports about the deal were hurting Clinton's campaign. Lyons issued a report exonerating the Clintons of wrongdoing, but Clinton critics view it as a whitewash.

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said he would take the unusual, but not unprecedented, action of exercising his prerogative as a senator from Lyons' home state to block his confirmation by the Senate.

The Constitution requires Senate confirmation of federal judges; Republicans control the Senate.

Roberts' spokeswoman said he supports Allard's action.

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