Crime & Courts

Senate hearing is today over Six's nomination

Former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six will be questioned by U.S. senators today as his nomination to become a federal appeals court judge moves forward amid a backlog of nominees awaiting confirmation by the Senate.

His hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee comes two months after President Obama nominated the Democrat to sit on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Six, a former state judge, began his law career nearly two decades ago as a clerk at the Denver-based court.

Kansas' two U.S. senators, Republicans Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, have remained publicly silent about whether Six would have their support. But today's hearing would not have been scheduled had there been active opposition from the nominee's home state senators, a committee spokeswoman and experts said Monday.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who follows the federal judiciary, said the senators may be waiting to see what kinds of questions come up during the hearing.

"It would certainly help if he did have their endorsement," Tobias. "Maybe they are being cautious and wanting to see what turns up in the hearing. I don't think he is particularly controversial."

An anti-abortion group issued a statement Monday opposing Six's nomination, though other opposition hasn't been apparent. Six has been praised by attorneys who cite his integrity and legal abilities.

Six didn't immediately respond Monday to an e-mail and phone message left at his law office in Lawrence. He has said in the past that he wouldn't comment about his nomination other than to say he was deeply honored.

Moran takes the "constitutional authority of the Senate very seriously" and would make his decision after Six's confirmation hearing, spokeswoman Lindsey Trent said in an e-mail. Roberts' spokeswoman, Andrea Candrian, added that Roberts would pay "close attention to the hearing" and looked forward to thoroughly reviewing Six's qualifications.

The committee isn't expected to make a decision today on Six's nomination. A vote would come during a separate hearing, likely to be scheduled for sometime in the next month or so.

The full Senate would then get a chance to vote on his nomination.

Six, 45, was a Douglas County District Court judge in Lawrence from 2005 until his 2008 appointment as Kansas attorney general by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is now secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services.

The 10th Circuit hears appeals from federal courts in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.