Novak defended Bush judicial nominee Boyle with falsehoods


CNN host and syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak falsely claimed that judicial nominee Terrence W. Boyle's record is marked by "decisions seldom overturned" and that he has "been waiting 14 years" for confirmation to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, Boyle's reversal rate is significantly higher than any of the federal district court judges President Bush nominated to federal courts of appeals. Further, as Media Matters for America noted in response to an erroneous assertion in a Washington Post headline (which the Post corrected), Boyle has spent only five of the last 14 years as a nominee to the 4th Circuit.

On the May 15 edition of CNN's The Capital Gang, Novak asserted that Boyle's decisions as a North Carolina federal district court judge were "seldom overturned." But according to a February 23 report by progressive advocacy group People for the American Way (PFAW), Boyle's answers to a 2003 Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire indicated that his opinions had been "reversed, vacated or otherwise adversely determined" by the 4th Circuit or the Supreme Court 139 times. In comparison to overall reversal statistics provided by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, PFAW found this to be a "disproportionately high number of reversals":

  • As of January 2003, approximately 12 percent of Boyle's decisions that had been appealed were reversed. From 1992 to 2002, the overall reversal rate of cases appealed to the U.S. courts of appeals was 9.7 percent per year, and the reversal rate of cases brought before the 4th Circuit averaged 7.5 percent per year.
  • As of January 2003, Boyle had an average of 7.3 reversals per year, which represented the highest average of any of the federal district court judges nominated by Bush to the court of appeals and more than twice as high as the next highest nominee.

Novak's claim that Boyle has been "waiting 14 years" to be confirmed to the 4th Circuit falsely suggests that he remained a nominee during the Clinton administration. After President George H.W. Bush first nominated him to the bench in 1991, the Senate returned his original nomination in 1992, and eight years passed before President George W. Bush re-nominated Boyle to the same court in May 2001.

From the May 14 edition of CNN's The Capital Gang:

NOVAK: The Senate Judiciary Committee ran out of time Wednesday and postponed for a week consideration of Terrence Boyle's nomination for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. He can wait -- he's been waiting 14 years. Now, he's been busy all this time on the federal district bench in North Carolina for the past 24 years, building an exemplary record. Graded well-qualified by the ABA [American Bar Association], with his decisions seldom overturned.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments, The Judiciary
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