The Amazing Case of the Disappearing Reversals

Senate committee scheduled to explore court nominee Boyle’s bogus claims about extraordinarily high reversal rate in hearing tomorrow

When Terrence Boyle appears at his hearing to become a court of appeals judge tomorrow, he will have a lot of explaining to do.

Of all the district judges nominated by President Bush to be promoted to the courts of appeals, Boyle has been reversed more often than any other, and appears to be the only one who has claimed that his total number of reversals has actually decreased over time.

“It’s the case of the disappearing reversals. In 2003, Boyle told the Senate that higher courts had reversed his rulings 139 times, an alarmingly high rate. This year, almost half of those reversals have mysteriously disappeared. Judge Boyle claims now he’s been reversed just 68 times,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way. “Add that discrepancy to Boyle’s troubling record on civil rights, sex discrimination, disability rights, and other issues, and we should have a very lively round of questions at his hearing.”

PFAW raised concern about the discrepancy in its February 23 report on the nomination. Boyle attempted to address the discrepancy later that day. In a supplement to his responses for the Senate Judiciary Committee, he claimed that none of the disappearing cases was a “significant criticism of a substantive or procedural ruling.” In fact, this is not true. For example, PFAW's report shows that his 2005 submissions to the committee omit at least five cases where his decisions were reversed because he committed “plain error,” an egregious mistake by a trial judge. Boyle's 2005 questionnaire also omits a number of other reversals since 2003.

“Terrence Boyle is attempting to mislead the Senate about his record of reversals, and the reason is clear. Simply put, he is a bad judge.” said Neas. “His reversal rate is astounding, and his rulings reflect a judicial philosophy that is damaging to the civil rights and liberties of average Americans.”

The PFAW report about Terrence Boyle can be viewed here. Boyle's hearing will take place at 2:00 p.m. in SD 226 on Thursday, March 3. It is the second hearing this week on a controversial Bush appellate court re-nominee that some Republican Senators hope to use to trigger the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster.

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