Senate Confirms Eight Trump Judicial Nominees

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate confirmed eight of President Donald Trump’s nominees to federal district courts on Thursday with minimal pushback from lawmakers on just two of the president’s picks.

The largest disparity in votes occurred when lawmakers broke 60-35 for Dominic Lanza, nominated by Trump for a federal judgeship in Arizona.

The Harvard Law alum worked at the Los Angeles, California, firm Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher for five years before joining the Phoenix, Arizona, federal prosecutor’s office in 2008.

Lanza grabbed headlines in April for his involvement in the takedown of Backpage.com, a site which the federal government shut down after alleging founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were complicit in sex trafficking occurring on site.

Lanza was also part of the legal team who prosecuted Jared Lee Loughner, the man who shot and killed six people and injured 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.

Though he called the Loughner case one of the most important cases of his career during his confirmation hearing in March, when senators pressed him for his position on gun control, he declined to comment.

During his confirmation process, Lanza also faced questions from lawmakers about his time serving as an attorney for General Motors.

He worked for the auto manufacturer when the state of California sued the company for damages they claimed to incur while combating climate change from auto emissions.

The only other nominee determined by a ballot, rather than voice vote Thursday was Charles Williams, nominated by Trump to a judgeship in the Northern District of Iowa.

Lawmakers voted for Williams, 79-12.

He formerly clerked for U.S. District Judge Donald O’Brien, who served in the same district Williams was nominated for Thursday.

Considered “unanimously qualified” by the American Bar Association, Williams also worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia in 1990.  He joined the Kansas City, Missouri-based firm Lathrop and Gage later but in 1997, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Iowa.

Confirmed by a voice vote on Thursday were nominees Marilyn Jean Horan for the Western District Pennsylvania, William Jung for the Middle District of Florida; Kari Dooley for the District of Connecticut; Robert Summerhays for the Western District of Louisiana, Eric Tostrud for the District Court of Minnesota and Alan Albright for the Western District of Texas.

Horan, a partner at the Butler, Pennsylvania-based firm Murrin, Taylor, Flach and Horan, was first nominated to the judgeship by President Barack Obama in 2015.

Though the Butler County Common Pleas Court judge had bipartisan support from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee when first nominated, the confirmation process was delayed for over a year.

Republican leaders refused to grant confirmation debates and ballots at the time.

President Trump re-nominated Horan in December 2017.

Among the nominees confirmed Thursday, only Robert Summerhays and Dominic Lanza are members of the conservative Federalist Society.

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