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By Michael Muskal, Times Staff Writer
Confusion, surprise and confrontation over top federal and judicial appointments has a rich and colorful history. Given the political nature of the choices and the sense of entitlement from different branches of government, it is not surprising that even the highly popular Barack Obama has found two of his appointees snared in controversy: Gov. Bill Richardson, who withdrew as the nominee for Commerce secretary amid questions about campaign contributions, and Leon Panetta, a surprise choice to lead the CIA who immediately faced questions about his lack of experience in the spy business.
Here are some past appointments that shook the political world:
The dispute over Supreme Court appointments goes back to 1795, when President George Washington picked John Rutledge of South Carolina to replace the first Chief Justice of the United States, John Jay. Rutledge gave a speech that was highly critical of the Jay Treaty, which resolved some of the issues that dated from the American Revolution. According to the Senate's official history, the Senate rejected Rutledge after opponents cited the speech as an example of his decreasing mental capacity.