As reported earlier today at Metro Weekly, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit nominee Edward DuMont had requested that President Barack Obama withdraw his nomination. This afternoon, Obama did so.
Listed as a "withdrawal sent to the Senate," "Edward Carroll DuMont, of the District of Columbia, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit, vice Paul R. Michel, retired, which was sent to the Senate on January 5, 2011" was withdrawn.
DuMont would have been the first out gay appellate judge in the nation, but he never even received a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee -- despite a "unanimously well qualified" recommendation from the American Bar Association.
Spokespeople for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee said in the past that Republican opposition to holding a hearing had prevented the scheduling of a hearing because such scheduling is traditionally done by agreement. Spokespeople for the Republicans on the committee noted, however, that Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) could schedule a hearing without Republicans' consent.
Today, Leahy refused to discuss DuMont's request that the nomination be withdrawn, and a spokeswoman for Leahy directed questions to the White House. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
DuMont had been waiting longer than any other Obama judicial nominee for a committee hearing, having originally been nominated on April 14, 2010, which was in the 111th Congress. He was renominated on Jan. 5, at the start of the 112th Congress.
In DuMont's place, Obama nominated "Richard Gary Taranto, of Maryland, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit, vice Paul R. Michel, retired."
According to biographical information distributed by the White House earlier in the afternoon, Taranto clerked for Judge Robert Bork of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and then Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor after law school. Bork's later nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected by the Senate because of concerns expressed by Democrats like former Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) that Bork's conservative views were outside the mainstream of legal thought.
After clerking, Taranto served as an assistant to the solicitor general during Charles Fried's tenure as solicitor general in the Reagan administration. The solicitor general is the top appellate litigator in the Department of Justice. Although Fried has supported conservative judicial nominees in the past, he also voted for Obama for president in 2008.
One of Taranto's notable Supreme Court arguments -- he's had 19 -- was MGM Studios v. Grokster, in which he represented the Grokster peer-to-peer file-sharing service. The case, in which Grokster had won at the appellate level, was reversed unanimously by the Supreme Court.
In a statement regarding Taranto's nomination, Obama did not mention DuMont, saying, "Richard Taranto is a lawyer of exceptional legal ability and great personal and professional integrity. I am pleased and honored to nominate him to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the Federal Circuit, and I am confident that his intelligence, independence, judgment, and temperament will make him a welcome addition to that court."
[UPDATE @ 8P: In July, when President Obama withdrew the nomination of Goodwin Liu, then a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the White House issued a statement. White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, per Politico:
Goodwin Liu would have brought extraordinary credentials, great intellect, and an inspirational life story to the bench. We remain disappointed he was not confirmed by the United States Senate but are confident he has a brilliant future. This administration will continue to work diligently to nominate judicial candidates from diverse backgrounds with mainstream views who respect the rule of law.
As noted above, however, there was nothing today from the White House about DuMont.]