Nev. federal judge nominee withdraws amid impasse

AP News
Posted: Mar 08, 2013 3:21 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A state judge from Las Vegas is abandoning her bid for a federal judgeship after she became embroiled in the national gun control debate over a 2008 comment that she didn't believe there was a constitutional right to own guns.

Clark County District Judge Elissa Cadish submitted a letter to Nevada's senators, made public Friday, saying she asked President Barack Obama to withdraw the nomination after it appeared to have reached an impasse. Her bid needed support from both Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Sen. Dean Heller to get a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Heller held firm in opposing her.

"By withdrawing my nomination, I am hopeful that there will be a speedy nomination and confirmation process for a new candidate in order to get that court up to its full complement of judges to the benefit of all citizens of Nevada," Cadish wrote in her letter.

She added that she planned to seek re-election for her district court seat in 2014, and needed to resolve the lingering federal nomination issue before she could start campaigning. The code of conduct for federal judge nominees advises them to refrain from political activity.

Cadish's candidacy hit a roadblock over her response to a 2008 questionnaire from Citizens for Responsible Government while she was running for a state judgeship.

Asked about the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms, she wrote that, "I do not believe that there is this constitutional right." She added, however, that, "I will enforce the laws as they exist as a judge."

When Reid later asked her to explain the comment, Cadish said federal law at the time was unsettled. U.S. Supreme Court rulings later in 2008 and in 2010 said the constitution protects a person's right to keep firearms, and Cadish said she would answer accordingly if asked the same question today.

Her responses stirred up the National Rifle Association, which has moved beyond legislative lobbying and has taken to opposing judicial nominees it perceives as unfriendly to gun rights. The group previously opposed Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in their bids for Supreme Court seats.

The NRA worked with Heller on blocking the nomination of Cadish, whom he said he respected but couldn't support.

"I believe an individual citizen has the constitutional right to keep and bear arms and cannot in good conscience support a nominee whose commitment to the Constitution's Second Amendment is in doubt," Heller said.

Heller released a statement Friday saying he agreed with the withdrawal.

"This has been an unfortunate situation from the very beginning and I wish Judge Cadish well in her future endeavors. I look forward to working with Senator Reid so that we can avoid similar situations and move swiftly to confirm future nominees," he said.

Reid praised Cadish's accomplishments as a judge and her "patience and grace in this process."

"I am disappointed in this outcome," Reid said in a statement released Friday. "However, I agree with Judge Cadish that with three vacancies on our district court, Nevada is in an urgent situation and continuing this impasse is not beneficial to our citizens who warrant a speedy judicial process."