Senate Democrats Pitch Judicial Nominees to Trump

WASHINGTON (CN) — Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to the White House recommending President Donald Trump nominate two magistrate judges for a position on a federal court in their state.

The two recommended candidates — U.S. Magistrate Judges Roderick Young and Douglas Miller — would be nominated to a seat on the Norfolk division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that is vacant after U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith took senior status at the beginning of August. Senior status judges are semi-retired and handle a much smaller caseload that active judges.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks to reporters on Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench,” the senators wrote in the single-page letter, which was announced Friday but dated Thursday. “We are honored to recommend them to you.”

Like many senators, Warner and Kaine, both Democrats, recommended Young and Miller following an assessment from a panel of attorneys in their state.

Young took the position as a magistrate judge in 2014, after spending 2002 to 2014 as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia. He eventually rose to deputy criminal supervisor in 2012.

“Recommendations from various bar associations and their individual members within the commonwealth reflect that practitioners would respect his rulings and that litigants would have reassurance of receiving a fair trial,” the letter states.

Miller has been a magistrate judge since 2010 and previously worked as a partner at Patten, Wornom, Hatten & Diamonstein.

“Judge Miller exhibits the professionalism, integrity and fairness sought in a sitting Article III judge, and he has been deeply devoted to his community and the peninsula area where he resides,” the senators wrote.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the vacancy.

Home-state senators have seen their influence of nominations to federal appeals courts dip during the Trump administration due to changes in what is known in the Senate as the blue slip, but they have maintained control of nominees to lower courts. Under the blue slip tradition, a nominee cannot go forward in the confirmation process unless both of his or her home-state senators sign off.

Former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, made it so the lack of two positive blue slips did not impede the progress of nominees to federal appeals courts and current Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has continued the practice. Both senators have maintained the blue slip tradition for nominees to federal district courts.

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