By voice vote, the chamber confirmed Gonzalo Curiel and Robert Shelby to judgeships in California’s Southern District and the District of Utah, respectively. The approvals came after Republicans made a contentious move Thursday by blocking confirmation of 17 long-pending federal district judges, setting off another round of familiar partisan sniping over judgeships.
Shelby had the backing of home state Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch. And although Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee had voted against that nomination in committee (he said the “no” vote was in protest of President Obama’s recess judge appointments back in January), he didn’t object on Friday.
The nominations were the longest-pending district judges on the Senate’s calendar, and they follow the chamber’s tradition of pairing a Democratic-supported nominee (Curiel had the support of both his state’s Democratic senators) with a GOP-backed one.