Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo weighed in today on the selection process for Idaho’s next federal judge and the prospects for getting nominee Judge David Nye confirmed this year. He said he doesn’t expect the current standoff between the Senate and the White House over hearings on President Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination, Merrick Garland, to affect the Idaho judge’s confirmation, as the two are “on separate tracks – I don’t believe that either the president or the Senate will try to link those two.”
He added, “The White House is strongly in support of their nomination, and Sen. Risch and I are strongly in support on the president’s nomination. There hasn’t been that consensus developed yet on the Supreme Court” nomination.
Crapo had high praise for Nye. “He has a tremendous record. He has broad support for his capabilities and his judicial demeanor from the legal community,” he said. “He has the intellectual respect and the experience that make him an outstanding nominee.”
Crapo also defended the lengthy, secretive process that he and Sen. Jim Risch followed to identify candidates for the position. He said many of the applicants asked for confidentiality, “and all of them were assured that.”
“We actually submitted our first round of recommendations to the White House in probably early May, which was two or three months before Judge Lodge’s retirement,” Crapo said. “The process was not as slow as it was because we were unable to reach consensus to send names to the White House. We had names to the White House at an early stage. But getting those names through all of the vetting process was the difficulty.” He said he didn’t think appointing a bipartisan vetting committee would have helped; that’s a process 20 states follow, and Idaho used the last time it got a new federal judge in 1995. “I don’t think it would have gone any more quickly,” Crapo said.
He estimated that the two senators proposed “10 or more” names to the White House over the entire 19-month period, and ended up submitting “four or five” of those for White House vetting.
Unlike Risch, he expressed regret that Idaho will continue to be the only state in the 9th Circuit, and one of just two in the nation, without a female U.S. district judge. “I think that it would be a very positive thing if we could have, at some point and some point soon, a female judge in the district of Idaho. And it did not work out in this case,” Crapo said. “I think you know we did submit both men and women names, and in this particular case, the evaluation, the vetting process ultimately was able to be finalized on Judge Nye. But I think that it is a very worthy objective that we should seek to fulfill as soon as we reasonably can.”
As for the prospects for getting Judge Nye confirmed before the end of the year, Crapo said, “We’ve got a very intense political climate that could cause some delays. But my hope and my belief is that we should make our best argument that the judicial emergency that we face in Idaho gives us even additional strong reason for the Senate to set aside the partisanship that is now so strong, and move forward with this nomination.”
“I can’t promise you that that will work out, but I can tell you that Sen. Risch and I are very aggressively working to try to get this nomination moved,” Crapo said. “One thing that helps us in that process, we have the White House in support of this nomination. We truly do have bipartisanship on this.”