The Supreme Court gets all the attention, but President Donald Trump could make lasting changes to the judicial branch in trying to fill the more than 100 U.S. District Court vacancies. The next judicial nomination up for consideration on the Senate floor would fill a spot in Idaho that has been open for some time, and the nominee has some bipartisan support as he has also been previously nominated by a Democratic president.
Before the recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lined up consideration of David Nye to be U.S. district judge for the District of Idaho. This isn’t his first trip through the nomination machine, as he was put forward last year by President Barack Obama for the same position.
But time ran out and the nomination was returned to the White House at the beginning of the year under Senate Rule XXXI, which states that “nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session at which they are made shall not be acted upon at any succeeding session without being again made to the Senate by the President.”
Given that Idaho Republican Sens. Michael D. Crapo and Jim Risch worked out an agreement with Obama to advance Nye, it is no surprise they appear to have worked with Trump to advance the judicial appointment now.
On Monday evening, the Senate voted to advance the nomination, 97-0. A final vote will occur Wednesday morning.
According to a release from the U.S. Courts for the 9th Circuit, which oversees the Idaho District Court, Nye has served as a state court judge since 2007. Before that, he was a partner at the Merrill & Merrill law firm, where he specialized in malpractice and insurance law.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Judiciary panel member, pointed out at a June 2016 confirmation meeting that Nye managed something unique during the previous administration.
“Mr. Nye, you represent something I’ve never seen before … a person that can get Crapo, Risch and Obama on the same sheet of music,” the South Carolina Republican said. He then asked, “How did you do that?” Nye responded that it “was not easy.”
When Nye was reported out of the Judiciary Committee last month for the second time, Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa noted the circumstances. In addition to Nye, Scott Palk was also nominated by Obama to be a district judge and picked up again by Trump after his nomination was returned to the White House in January.
“These nominees were nominated by President Obama last year and we held a hearing for them then,” Grassley said. “Both these nominees have strong home state support and were reported out of this committee last Congress by voice vote.”
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who took over the ranking member position at Judiciary this year, voiced no concerns with Nye when the committee advanced the nomination for consideration to the full Senate. Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, a Judiciary member who held the top Democratic spot on the panel before Feinstein, supported the nomination last year and has not raised concerns now, his office said.
“It’s fair to say that the vetting of Nye did not raise the same concerns that a lot of the President’s nominees have raised, about lack of qualifications and/or extreme views,” Leahy spokesman David Carle said in an email.