WASHINGTON (AP) The U.S. Senate has confirmed two more of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, bringing to 26 the number of new appellate judges that have been approved this session of Congress.
The judges confirmed Aug. 16 — South Carolina U.S. District Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. and South Carolina federal prosecutor Jay Richardson — will fill seats on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., praised the Trump nominees from his state in a floor speech ahead of the vote.
He called Quattlebaum “one of the most capable lawyers I’ve ever met.” And he called Richardson, who successfully prosecuted Dylann Roof in the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting in South Carolina, “one of the great legal minds of our time.”
Quattlebaum was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 62-28, while the vote for Richardson was 81-8.
Quattlebaum was confirmed for the federal bench in March, and was nominated for the 4th Circuit position in May. He previously was a partner in the Greenville, South Carolina office of Nelson Mullins where he practiced complex business and federal civil litigation. He previously served as president of the South Carolina Bar.
Richardson has been a federal prosecutor since 2009. He is best known for his work prosecuting Roof. Before becoming a federal prosecutor, Richardson handled complex civil litigation for three years as an associate with Washington D.C. firm Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel. He also previously served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and to Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Republicans have made a priority of confirming judges in their fight to hold the Senate majority ahead of the fall midterm election. Democrats have stalled many of Trump’s picks.
Conservatives have long taken an interest in the judiciary. McConnell leads a narrowly divided Senate, 51-49, which makes it difficult to pass legislation. But he has seized on the chance to reshape the courts in the Trump era. Judges can be confirmed with a simple majority of senators.
Some Democrats have complained that Trump and Republicans are stacking the courts with some of the more conservative jurists in the nation. They point to cases when nominees were pushed forward for confirmation without backing from a nominee’s home-state senators. Other court picks from Trump are getting bipartisan support.
Democrats had changed the rules several years ago, when they had control, to allow judicial nominees to be confirmed with a majority vote.
Quattlebaum and Richardson will be two of 15 judges on the Richmond-based 4th Circuit, which hears appeals cases from federal district courts in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
– with reporting by Matthew Chaney