WASHINGTON (AP) President Bush announced yesterday that he has selected three Michigan judges to fill longtime vacancies on the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals, but their confirmation could be slowed in a political struggle with Michigan”s Democratic senators.

The White House issued a statement saying that Bush plans to nominate Judge David McKeague of the U.S. District Court in Lansing, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Susan Neilson and Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Henry Saad. McKeague and Neilson are both University of Michigan alumni.

The Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court handles appeals from federal district courts in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

A senator from a nominee”s home state can block the confirmation. Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow said yesterday they would not approve the new nominations because President Clinton”s nominees to the 6th Circuit were never given a confirmation hearing.

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee kept Clinton”s nomination of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Helene White for more than four years, longer than any nominee in Senate history. Clinton”s nomination of Detroit attorney Kathleen McCree Lewis was pending for a year and a half when Bush officially withdrew their nominations in March.

In a letter written Nov. 1, Levin and Stabenow asked the Bush administration to establish a bipartisan commission to fill the Michigan vacancies on the court. The White House rejected that proposal in a Nov. 2 letter to the senators. Levin and Stabenow said yesterday they still hoped a bipartisan compromise could be reached.

One alternative would give the Clinton nominees one of four Michigan vacancies on the 6th Circuit Court and the other a seat on the U.S. District Court in eastern Michigan.

Bush”s nominees would then fill the three other Michigan vacancies on the 6th Circuit.

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