Allard-Salazar deal clears way to confirm judges | AspenTimes.com

Allard-Salazar deal clears way to confirm judges

Dan Elliott
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado’s U.S. senators have set aside a dispute to clear the way to fill two vacancies at the U.S. District Court in Denver. The fate of a third opening is uncertain.

Republican Wayne Allard and Democrat Ken Salazar said Monday that confirmation hearings would be held for Christine Arguello and Phillip Brimmer, nominated by President Bush. Tuesday’s hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are required before the full Senate can vote on the nominees.

Salazar had blocked hearings on Brimmer, a Republican and assistant U.S. attorney, because Brimmer wasn’t among names put forward by a bipartisan panel Salazar established to suggest judge candidates. Allard had said he would block hearings on Arguello, a Democrat and University of Colorado attorney, if Brimmer did not get a hearing. Arguello once worked for Salazar.

When the prospect arose that Colorado nominees could get two of five nomination hearing slots on Tuesday, Salazar and Allard put aside their differences.

Salazar met with Brimmer on Friday and consulted through the weekend with Allard and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Salazar spokesman Matt Lee-Ashley.

No hearing has been scheduled for Bush’s third Colorado nominee, Gregory Goldberg, an attorney in private practice in Denver. Prospects for his confirmation are unclear. All nominations expire at the end of the year.

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Allard will press for a hearing for Goldberg, said spokesman Steve Wymer.

Wymer said Allard supports all three nominees but had decided that if the Judiciary Committee could only hold a hearing for either Arguello or Goldberg ” and not Brimmer ” Allard would withdraw his support for Arguello.

Salazar wants the federal government to move toward a merit-based selection system like Colorado’s, rather than the current federal system, which relies partly on suggestions from members of the president’s party, Lee-Ashley said.

Colorado currently has nine U.S. district judges and eight magistrate judges.

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