In an about-face, President George W. Bush today nominated Virginia Supreme Court Justice G. Steven Agee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Agee was on a senatorial short list that Bush had earlier ignored.
A former Virginia Court of Appeals judge, Agee has been on the state’s high bench since 2003, when he was chosen by the state general assembly in a voice vote. Prior to that, he worked for more than 20 years as a defense attorney specializing in general litigation, commercial law, and criminal matters. He’s a former shareholder in the Roanoke, Va., firm of Osterhoudt, Prillman, Natt, Helscher, Yost, Maxwell & Ferguson.
Nine months ago, Sens. John Warner (R-Va.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) sent Bush a list of five candidates who could pass bipartisan muster in the Senate. Agee was the first on that list. However, Bush rebuffed them. Instead, he nominated Duncan Getchell, the appellate group chairman at McGuireWoods in Richmond, Va., in September, only to withdraw Getchell’s name in January because of Senate opposition.
Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor, says Bush took too long in forwarding Agee's nomination. "It's probably irrelevant because it's too late. It may reflect that the White House finally recognizes that it has to work with the senators. So I think that's progress on the part of the White House. Maybe it’s pragmatic realism."
Agee is one of four pending 4th Circuit nominees for five vacancies on the 15-member court. Legal Times looked at the judicial nominees backlog in this story.