WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2007 -- In a bow to new political realities on Capitol Hill, the White House threw in the towel tonight on some controversial appointments to the federal bench.
In submitting his first list of judicial nominees to the 110th Congress, the president left off the names of four nominees whom the previous Congress had failed to confirm.
The news concerning judicial nominees came on the same day that veteran legal infighter Fred Fielding was officially named White House counsel -- a move seen as the Bush administration girding for battle in upcoming hearings planned by the new Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.
Both moves signify that the White House is steeling itself for new attacks from a Democratic-led Congress, and that it is no longer in the position to engage in a potentially bitter fight to confirm more controversial judicial nominees who previously failed to win Democratic support.
The former nominees have asked the White House to remove their names from consideration.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the president had not made a mistake in withdrawing the nominees' names from consideration.
"President Bush has made the right decision in not resubmitting these controversial and problematic nominees who failed to win confirmation from a Republican-controlled Senate," Leahy said in a statement released today.
The former nominees are:
William G. Haynes, who has served as general counsel at the Pentagon and came under attack for policies regarding military detainees
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle, whom the Democrats had criticized for his record on civil rights
William G. Myers III, an Idaho attorney who had strong opposition from environmental groups and who told ABC News that he had sent his letter asking the president to withdraw his name Monday
Michael B. Wallace, a private attorney who had failed to get a qualified approval rating from the American Bar Association and asked that his name be withdrawn a few weeks ago