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McConnell Forcing Year-End Action on Trump Judicial Nominees

Dec. 17, 2019, 12:29 AM

Two district court nominees originally tapped by Barack Obama were among 13 judicial selections positioned for Senate votes before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Dec. 16 filed for cloture to end debate on the list of former Big Law partners, prosecutors, and state court judges nominated by President Donald Trump.

The Republican-led Senate is aiming to squeeze in a final round of confirmations in another big year for conservative judicial nominees. Trump has appointed more than 170 district and appellate judges since taking office as well as two to the U.S. Supreme Court in a bid to remake the judiciary with young conservatives.

Most of the trial court selections advanced by McConnell for votes this week would go to eight states with at least one Republican senator and five represented by Democrats. Democrats have expressed frustration with many Trump judicial selections, saying they lack the requisite legal qualifications or are too ideological.

Obama Picks

Action on nominees advanced by McConnell who were first nominated by Obama and then renominated by Trump include Gary Richard Brown for the Eastern District of New York, which includes Brooklyn, and Robert J. Colville for the Western District of Pennsylvania, which includes Pittsburgh.

The list also includes Jodi Dishman, who worked at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in San Antonio and is up for a seat in the Western District of Oklahoma. She’s a shareholder at McAfee & Taft in Oklahoma City and formerly clerked for the Fifth Circuit.

Action on the judges is expected to come after the Senate clears a must-pass defense authorization bill (S. 1790) and possibly legislation to fund the federal government before a current stopgap expires on Dec. 20. The Senate plans to vote on the defense measure on Dec. 17.

McConnell made his move amid reports that Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is resisting efforts to negotiate a package of lower court judges that could move before adjournment and be approved without roll call votes. Democratic aides said they do not expect a year-end package that is approved by unanimous consent to include more judges.

Under McConnell’s plan, the Senate would first vote on judicial picks for Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. Then it would consider nominees from New York, New Mexico, and Michigan.

Others on the list include;

Matthew McFarland for the Southern District of Ohio;
Anuraag Singhal for the Southern District of Florida;
Karen Marston for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania;
Daniel Traynor for the District of North Dakota;
John M. Gallagher for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania;
Bernard Maurice Jones II for the Western District of Oklahoma;
Mary Kay Vyskocil for the Southern District of New York;
Kea Whetzal Riggs for the District of New Mexico;
Lewis J. Liman for the Southern District of New York;
Stephanie Dawkins Davis for the Eastern District of Michigan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Ognanovich in Washington at nognanov@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com; Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Bennett Roth at broth@bgov.com

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