In a recess appointment announced last week, President George W. Bush named W. Scott Railton to join Clinton appointee Thomasina Rogers, the current chair of the review commission. A minimum of two commissioners is necessary for the independent federal adjudicatory panel to resolve disputed job safety and health inspection cases.
As a recess appointee, Railton's term will last through the next session of the Senate, sometime near the end of 2003, unless the Senate confirms him to a full term, a review commission spokesperson said.
Railton leaves his position as a senior labor partner at the law firm of Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay to return to the review commission. In the mid-1970s, he served as chief counsel to two agency commissioners and later was acting general counsel.
The review commission has been without a quorum for seven months and has a backlog of 71 cases. The commission has been without a quorum four times in the last four years, and the number of undecided cases is not unusual, according to the spokesperson.
It remains to be seen, with one Republican and one Democratic commissioner, whether the commission will have trouble deciding cases and reducing the backlog.