Judiciary Committee Sends Anti-Civil Rights Nominee with Questionable Record to Full Senate

Terrence Boyle’s Appeals Court Nomination Advances on Party-Line Vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee split along partisan lines today as it voted 10 to 8 to advance North Carolina District Court judge Terrence Boyle’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals nomination.

Boyle’s nomination has encountered opposition not only because of his record of anti-civil rights jurisprudence but also because he is surrounded by questions about his competence and credibility—particularly since he was caught this winter misleading senators about his startlingly high reversal rate. In addition, Boyle has failed to honor his pledge to release his unpublished opinions, making it impossible to fully evaluate his record.

“Based on the available record, it is clear that Terrence Boyle should not be promoted to the appellate bench,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. “He has a dismal record in civil rights and liberties cases, an unusually high number of troubling reversals, and a severe lack of credibility. Why elevate someone to one of the most important courts in the land when his commitment to fundamental principles and even his very competence is in doubt?”

Boyle’s decision in Cromartie v. Hunt (1998) is one of many he has issued that attempt to rewrite existing law in order to deny Americans their civil rights. In this case, he sided with white plaintiffs challenging a North Carolina congressional redistricting plan. But Boyle’s reasoning was so flawed that his opinion was twice reversed by the Supreme Court, once in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Clarence Thomas.

In fact, Boyle is no stranger to reversals. As PFAW’s detailed examination of his record (available here) shows, Boyle has been reversed more often than any other district judge nominated by President Bush for promotion to the Court of Appeals. After initially acknowledging to the Senate that higher courts had reversed or criticized his decisions 139 times, Boyle changed his tune and tried to mislead senators, claiming that only 68 of his rulings had been reversed or criticized, when the actual number is more than 150.

One of the most troubling aspects of Judge Boyle’s record is his extreme disregard for the civil rights and civil liberties of racial minorities, women, the disabled, and many other Americans. In fact, Neas noted, Boyle’s disregard of the First Amendment rights of off-duty police officers and other public employees has earned him the opposition of eight different national and other law enforcement and emergency services organizations, including several from his home state.

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