U.S. Senate confirms W.Va. judge to federal district court

Jessica M. Karmasek Mar. 15, 2012, 1:50pm




WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed West Virginia Judge Gina Groh's nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

In a roll call vote, taken shortly after 2 p.m., Groh's nomination was confirmed 95-2.

Groh, who currently serves on the state's Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit, will fill the vacancy left by the 2006 death of Judge Craig Broadwater.

West Virginia's senior senator, Jay Rockefeller, said he "couldn't be more pleased" that the Senate finally confirmed Groh.

"This is a great day for her but also for the people of West Virginia," Rockefeller, a Democrat, said in a statement Thursday.

"She is a talented and fair judge who has dedicated her career to serving the people of our state. She has earned the respect and confidence of West Virginians both from her work as an even-handed judge, as well as her time as a diligent prosecutor and law firm associate. I know she'll do a great job."

He added, "I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for moving her nomination forward for the good of the American people, and I'm hopeful this is a sign of a renewed spirit of bipartisanship in Congress."

Groh, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to the federal district court last May, waited nearly five months to be confirmed.

Her nomination was reported out of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan vote in October, but was held up due to party politics.

Some GOP senators were still fuming over Obama's decision in January to make a controversial recess appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to the post of director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul and is tasked with regulating consumer financial products.

Democrats, including Obama, argued Republicans were "stonewalling" Cordray's nomination.

So, the president went ahead and appointed Cordray. In turn, some Republican senators threatened to hold up Obama's nominations.

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed cloture on 17 judicial nominations, including Groh's, in an effort to speed up the confirmation process.

However, on Wednesday, senators came to an agreement to work to confirm 14 judicial nominees by May 7.

That would mean about three confirmation votes could be held a week while the Senate is in session.

West Virginia attorney Stephanie Thacker is rumored to be one of the two appellate judges of the 14 nominees.

Thacker was nominated by Obama in September to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Thacker would replace Judge M. Blane Michael, who died earlier this year. Michael had held the position since 1993.

The Senate Judiciary Committee in November approved Thacker's nomination to the federal appeals court.

However, like Groh, she has waited several months to be confirmed by the full Senate.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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