Law professor says committee will approve Thacker

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Oct 21, 2011



WASHINGTON -- A University of Richmond law school professor says it's not surprising that West Virginia attorney Stephanie Thacker's nomination to a federal appeals court was held over Thursday.

Thacker was officially nominated by President Barack Obama in September to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit after Jay Rockefeller, West Virginia's senior U.S. senator, recommended her nomination.

If approved, Thacker would replace Judge M. Blane Michael, who died earlier this year. Michael had held the position since 1993.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive business meeting to consider five pending nominations, including Thacker's, and a piece of legislation, the Discount Pricing Consumer Protection Act.

The committee decided to hold over Thacker's nomination and those of Michael Walter Fitzgerald, for U.S. district judge for the Central District of California; Ronnie Abrams, for U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York; Rudolph Contreras, for U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia; and Miranda Du, for U.S. district judge for the District of Nevada.

Carl Tobias, the Williams Professor of Law at University of Richmond's law school, said Friday that since Obama became President, the GOP has held over "virtually all" nominees considered for the first time until the next meeting.

So, Thacker's nomination being held over shouldn't come as a surprise, he said.

"It is almost automatic and says nothing about Thacker, who is well qualified, uncontroversial and has strong support of the two West Virginia senators," Tobias said.

In addition to Rockefeller, Sen. Joe Manchin has expressed his support for the Hamlin native.

Tobias said he doubts there will be any votes against her in committee.

In fact, the law professor said he expects Thacker's nomination -- and the four others -- to be approved by the judiciary committee at its next meeting, Nov. 3.

"Once she has (the Senate Judiciary Committee's) approval, the real question is when she will receive a floor vote," he explained.

"The Senate has been very slow to vote on appellate nominees, voting on five this year, while three are on the Senate calendar awaiting votes ahead of Thacker."

Thacker currently is a partner at the law firm of Guthrie & Thomas in Charleston, where she specializes in complex litigation, environmental and toxic tort litigation, and criminal defense. She also teaches as an adjunct professor at the West Virginia University School of Law.

After graduating law school, Thacker spent two years in the Pittsburgh office of the law firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. In 1992, after working briefly in the West Virginia Attorney General's Office, Thacker joined the law firm of King, Betts & Allen, which now is Guthrie & Thomas.

She rejoined the firm in 2006 after having served as a federal prosecutor for 12 years both in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia and in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

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