Kansas senators block Obama-appointee

Jessica M. Karmasek Jul. 29, 2011, 12:52pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has blocked former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six's nomination to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The committee held an executive business meeting to consider pending nominations Thursday. According to the results of the meeting, posted online, Six's nomination was "not considered."

According to The Associated Press, the committee will defer to opposition from Kansas' U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran. Both Roberts and Moran are Republicans.

The senators sent a letter Monday to the chairman of the committee, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, asking that the committee not take up Six's nomination, the AP reported.

Last month, the Kansas senators released separate statements saying they oppose the former attorney general's nomination.

"After thoroughly reviewing Mr. Six's record and his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will not support his nomination to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. I have urged my colleagues on the committee to vote against his nomination," Roberts said.

Moran said, "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."

Neither senator explained why they would not support Six.

However, Pepperdine University law dean Deanell Reece Tacha said in a letter to the judiciary committee last month that she approves of Six.

Six, a Democrat, would fill Tacha's seat on the federal court. She served on the 10th Circuit since January 1986 and served as Chief Judge from January 2001 until 2007.

In February, she announced she was leaving the court to become dean at Pepperdine's law school, retiring June 1 to begin her new position.

In a June 24 letter to Leahy and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee's ranking Republican, Tacha defended Six:

"I can say with confidence that Stephen Six possesses the demeanor, intellect and integrity that characterizes the finest judges in the nation," she wrote.

"He is open and independent in his judgment. He demonstrates the highest standards and professionalism in everything that he does."

Six was appointed to district court judge in 2005 by former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who now serves as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama.

Sebelius, a Democrat, then appointed Six to state attorney general in December 2007. Six lost his seat in the November general election to Republican Derek Schmidt. Since January, Six has worked as a partner at the law firm of Stevens & Brand.

Obama nominated him to the 10th Circuit on March 9.

"Steve Six has distinguished himself as a first-rate jurist with unflagging integrity and evenhandedness," Obama said in a statement at the time. "I am grateful for his service to the state of Kansas and look forward to adding his considerable wisdom and experience to the 10th Circuit Court."

From 1994 to 2005, Six worked at the Kansas City law firm of Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, first as a litigation associate from 1994 to 1998 and later as a partner from 1998 to 2005.

From 1993 to 1994, he served as a judicial law clerk to Tacha.

Six received his law degree in 1993 from the University of Kansas School of Law and his undergraduate degree in 1988 from Carleton College.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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