The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance two President Joe Biden appellate picks, moving both nominees with public defender backgrounds to consideration by the full chamber.
US District Judge Sarah Merriam, who is nominated to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Rhode Island Public Defender Lara Montecalvo, who is nominated to the First Circuit, each received 12-10 votes Thursday from the committee.
They were supported by all the committee Democrats, plus Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has voted to advance most Biden judicial nominees in committee.
Prior to becoming a federal judge in the District of Connecticut, Merriam was an assistant federal public defender in the same district. Biden has so far prioritized naming judicial picks that bring nontraditional professional backgrounds, such as experience as a public defender, to the federal bench.
The committee also advanced the nominations of Nina Nin-Yuen Wang, for the District of Colorado, in a 14-8 vote, and Tiffany Cartwright, for the Western District of Washington, in a 12-10 vote.
Wang is a US magistrate judge and was previously a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels. Cartwright is partner at MacDonald Hoague & Bayless who focuses on civil rights law.
The committee action comes one day after Biden announced seven new federal judicial nominees, including three for circuit courts. There are 14 circuit nominees and 21 district nominees pending in the Senate.
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