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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 26, 2001

Cayetano wants Circuit Court judge nominee blocked

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

Gov. Ben Cayetano yesterday said he hopes U.S. Senate reorganization that left the Democrats in charge will block the nomination of Republican Hawai'i lawyer Richard "Rick" Clifton to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Cayetano said he asked U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye to take a close look at Clifton's nomination to the lifetime position because Clifton demonstrated that he is "very partisan," which Cayetano said is inappropriate in a judge.

"You don't need politicians sitting on the bench... (but) the local Republican Party has tried to reward those who have been very, very politically active," Cayetano said.

Senate reorganization "will make a big difference, especially with regards to the federal appointments," Cayetano said. "With the Democrats in control of the Senate now, I think the president will have to appoint Republicans ... who are acceptable across the board."

Clifton, who is with the firm Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright, has been the lawyer for the Republican Party since 1993.

Cayetano pointed to Clifton's lawsuits on behalf of the GOP and said: "That's his right, but you shouldn't put him in a government post that requires fairness and nonpartisanship."

Clifton declined to comment, but Hawai'i Republican Party Chairman Micah Kane said Cayetano is being "hypocritical."

Kane pointed to Caye-tano's appointment in 1998 of former state Sen. Rey Graulty, a Democrat, as a Circuit Court judge.