Senate Confirms Judges for Kansas, Kentucky Courts

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate on Thursday confirmed two of President Donald Trump’s federal judicial nominees, one to a court in Kansas and another to a court in Kentucky.

Both nominees cleared the Senate by unanimous voice vote after Democrats forced procedural votes on their nominations. The Senate voted 74-24 in a procedural vote on John Broomes, who is up for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky nominee Rebecca Jennings cleared the same hurdle 94-2.

As their unopposed confirmations in the Senate indicate, neither nominee drew much controversy during the nomination process. Broomes and Jennings were both scheduled to testify at a nomination hearing in November, but never appeared before the committee as a panel of two circuit court judges who went before them ran long.

Jennings has worked at the Louisville, Kentucky, firm Middleton Reutlinger since 2003, becoming the chair of the firm’s litigation department in 2014. Jennings joined the firm after clerking for U.S. District Judge William Haynes of the Middle District of Tennessee.

While at the firm, Jennings has defended companies against class actions and worked both sides of professional malpractice and intellectual property cases, according to her profile on the firm’s website.

Jennings once served as lead defense counsel for a Kentucky school board that faced an ACLU-supported class action challenge to a program that allowed parents to enroll their children in classes that were divided by gender. A federal judge eventually ruled the program did not violate federal education regulations.

Despite a lengthy history in civil litigation, Jennings acknowledged in response to written questions Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., submitted after her nomination hearing that she must work to remedy her lack of experience in criminal law.

Jennings said judges at the court to which she has been confirmed have allowed her to sit in on criminal proceedings, which she said will supplement her individual study of the subject.

John Broomes has worked as an attorney at the Hinkle Law Firm in Wichita, Kansas, since 2007, rising to the position of partner in 2010. Before attending law school, Broomes worked as a laboratory and project manager at Koch Industries. Broomes also served in the Navy from 1991 to 1996, earning the rank of lieutenant.

Broomes’ practice at Hinkle focuses on oil and gas law, primarily serving as outside general counsel for out-of-state businesses. Broomes told lawmakers he typically helps coordinate litigation efforts for attorneys in multiple states, working closely with his clients’ in-house counsel.

Whitehouse pressed Broomes in written questions submitted after his nomination hearing about his extensive work with oil and gas companies, specifically asking for his personal views on fracking.

Broomes explained his personal views on the issue would not matter if he was confirmed to the court and he assured Whitehouse that his work for oil and gas companies has not diminished his views of the environment.

“To the extent my work has had any effect on environmental rights, it has been to advance those rights,” Broomes wrote. “Energy is essential to the well-being of the people of the United States and many of my clients have helped bring affordable energy resources to the American public. The availability of abundant, affordable energy helps support a level of economic prosperity that enables a country like the United States to promote environmental quality.”

 

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