WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to approve Berkeley Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh to the federal court, along with four other judges in different states.
The judges nominated and voted on during the meeting were Evan Wallach, to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit; Dana Christensen, to be U.S. District Judge for Montana; Cathy Bencivengo, to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of California; Groh, to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of West Virginia; and Margo Brodie, to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Carl Tobias, a Williams Professor and the University of Richmond School of Law, said the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Groh by voice vote with four other well-qualified and non-controversial nominees.
"There was no debate or discussion," Tobias said. "The GOP members were satisfied with all of the nominees."
Tobias said the question that remains is when Groh will receive a floor vote and that is unclear.
"Twenty-six nominees are waiting for votes and some of the have been waiting since the spring," Tobias said. "My best estimate is that she will be confirmed this year."
President Obama nominated Groh for the state's federal bench on May 19 to fill the vacancy left by the 2006 death of Judge Craig Broadwater.
Groh previously was an assistant county prosecutor when Sen. Joe Manchin, who was then the governor, appointed her to the circuit judgeship in 2006.
Manchin and Sen. Jay Rockefeller recommended Groh to Obama in March.
After Groh's passage Thursday, the senators urged a quick vote by the full Senate.
"Judge Groh is a fair, qualified, and compassionate judge," Rockefeller said. "She has proven through her extensive legal experience, understanding of the law, and willingness to stand up for those who are most in need of legal help, that she would be an asset to the federal court. She has earned the respect and confidence of West Virginians both from her work as an even-handed judge, as well as her time as a diligent prosecutor and law firm associate.
"I was honored to recommend Judge Groh for this position and I urge the full Senate to confirm her to the federal bench quickly given the great need for filling this long vacancy in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, where she has long resided. I have no doubt that Judge Groh will continue to make West Virginia proud."
"I was extremely proud to appoint Judge Groh to the circuit court when I was Governor of West Virginia, and I am pleased that the Senate Judiciary Committee supported her nomination today," he said. "Judge Groh is a well-respected and recognized member of her community in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, as I have known for many years. I believe that Judge Groh's experience, intellect, leadership, impartiality, and deep roots in the community make her a prudent choice for the vacancy in the Northern District of West Virginia.
"If confirmed, she will be the first resident of the Eastern Panhandle to sit as a U.S. District Court Judge in Martinsburg. Her extensive legal experience and dedication to public service demonstrate that she exemplifies not only the qualities of a talented jurist, but also the high moral character and sense of justice necessary to make a great judge."