The White House has signed off on the renomination of Idaho Judge David Nye to fill the state’s long-vacant federal district judgeship, Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch said Thursday.
“The White House has told me that Judge Nye will be included in the very first group of district judicial nominees that it sends to the Senate,” Crapo said. “While I have yet to be given a definitive timeline for that renomination, I will be active in ushering Judge Nye through the Judiciary Committee once his nomination is received.”
Nye won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee last June, but his nomination never came up for a vote in the full Senate, as both parties continued wrangling over the Senate GOP leadership’s refusal to consider then-President Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Though Crapo and Risch continued pushing for the Idaho nomination, they had to start over after the election in order to get newly-elected President Donald Trump to sign on.
“We have been in constant communication with the White House regarding Judge Nye,” Risch said. “The White House has assured us that he will be in the first wave of judges to advance, and we anticipate that happening soon.”
Idaho has been down to just one active federal district judge since longtime Judge Edward Lodge took senior status on July 3, 2015. The federal court system has declared a judicial emergency in Idaho due to the shortage of judges.
When the new Congress convened this year, Crapo joined the Judiciary Committee, saying it would help him shepherd the nomination and also push for Idaho to get a third federal district judge.
Idaho’s congressional delegation has long been pushing for Idaho to get a third judgeship; the nonpartisan Judicial Conference of the United States has recommended in every one of its reports to Congress since 2003 that Idaho be authorized for a third judgeship. However, Congress hasn’t authorized any additional federal district judgeships since 2002.
At last June’s Senate Judiciary hearing on Nye, Crapo told the committee, “The result is that we have a three-judge caseload being handled by two judges.” And since Lodge took senior status, “We have been a three-caseload state being handled by only one active judge,” he said.
The two senators and the Obama administration negotiated for a year and a half before settling on Nye as a nominee acceptable to both President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and the two Idaho senators, both Republicans. The long process included considering and rejecting dozens of other nominees.
Nye, 58, has been an Idaho 5th District judge since 2007; prior to that, he practiced law in Pocatello for 20 years, specializing in medical malpractice and insurance law. He holds both bachelor’s and law degrees from Brigham Young University.
“He previously appeared before and was unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee,” Crapo said, “so I will be working with my colleagues to move his renomination quickly.”