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Idaho Nominee To 9th Circuit Court Faces Senate Hearing

Marcio Jose Sanchez
AP Images
File photo of a man walking up the steps of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals building Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in San Francisco. Idaho Falls-based attorney Ryan Nelson has been nominated for a seat on the bench.

Wednesday morning, a senate committee will consider the nomination of an Idaho attorney for a spot on the bench of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court itself has been in the political crosshairs of President Trump.

Ryan Nelson has been the General Counsel of Idaho Falls-based Melaleuca since 2009. Before being nominated for a spot on the court, he was tapped for an Interior Department role under the Trump administration, but was never confirmed.

Shaakirah Sanders, who teaches constitutional law at University of Idaho law school, says Nelson’s nomination is interesting because of Trump’s distaste of the Ninth Circuit.

“There’s a lot of history of the judges from Idaho who sit on the Ninth Circuit not having the same reputation as some of the other judges maybe from California or Washington,” says Sanders.

That liberal reputation stems in part from Democratic presidents nominating nearly twice as many judges as Republicans over the past few decades.

If Nelson is confirmed to serve as a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, he’ll follow a longstanding pattern: Idaho has never had a woman appointed to a lifetime position on the federal bench.

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo will chair Nelson’s confirmation hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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