By George Diepenbrock
Former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six’s bid for a seat on a federal appeals court will have to wait a week for a Senate Judiciary Committee vote after senators delayed action Thursday apparently to debate his nomination.
And the Lawrence attorney is not getting support of his home state’s two Republican U.S. senators.
Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran — neither serve on the judiciary committee — announced they oppose Six’s nomination to the federal bench. President Barack Obama nominated the Democrat in March to sit on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Six lost his attorney general election bid to Derek Schmidt in November.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Roberts, the state’s senior senator who urged judiciary committee members to vote against Six, mentioned the former attorney general’s testimony at a May confirmation hearing.
“Based on that hearing, a review of the committee record will show several areas where his answers were not forthcoming or where issues of his judgment in handling cases as attorney general were called into serious question,” Roberts said. “Based on his own testimony, I could not support his nomination.”
Initially Thursday, judiciary committee members were scheduled to vote on Six’s nomination, but Erica Chabot, spokeswoman for the committee, told The Associated Press the delay came because some members wanted to debate his nomination. The debate and vote is now scheduled for next Thursday.
Several Kansas and national abortion groups have criticized Six’s nomination and ties to former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s current Health and Human Services secretary who appointed him attorney general. But attorneys have praised his nomination, citing his integrity and legal abilities. An American Bar Association committee rated him as “well qualified” for the position.
During the judiciary committee hearing in May, Six mostly was grilled by the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, on abortion issues stemming from his tenure as attorney general and his judicial views on the issue.
“After thoroughly reviewing Mr. Six’s qualifications and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will not be supporting President Obama’s nominee to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Moran said in a statement.
Moran’s office did not elaborate when asked Thursday.
Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who follows the federal judiciary, said Thursday it was too soon to tell whether lack of support from the two Kansas senators would harm Six’s nomination.
“I think we need to know the basis of that opposition, and we’ll see,” Tobias said.
Six is a former Douglas County judge whose father, Fred Six, is a retired Kansas Supreme Court justice. He began his law career nearly two decades ago as a clerk at the Denver-based federal appeals court. The appellate seat came open when another Lawrence resident, Judge Deanell Reece Tacha, became law dean at Pepperdine University in California.