It was a Halloween surprise for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. President Obama's Fifth Circuit nominee Stephen Higginson managed both a trick and a treat on Monday, as he won a unanimous confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate.
As we mentioned in early October, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Higginson's nomination in July, but there was debate as to whether the full Senate would take up D.C. Circuit nominee Caitlin Halligan's vote before considering Higginson because Halligan was ahead in the vote queue.
The Senate answered that question yesterday when it allowed Higginson to leapfrog past Halligan in the confirmation line.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten described Higginson to the Times-Picayune as "one of the sharpest legal minds I've ever encountered," a compliment that Higginson's resume easily supports. Higginson attended Harvard (AB, '83), Cambridge (MPhil, '84), and Yale (JD, '87), before clerking for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
While Higginson should be delighted by the overwhelming bipartisan support he garnered in his 88-0 vote, he wasn't October's most popular judicial pick; Fourth Circuit nominee Henry Floyd was confirmed earlier in the month by a 96-0 vote.
Higginson will be sworn in to fill retiring Judge Jacques Wiener's seat after he resigns his posts as chief of appeals at the U.S. Attorney's office and as a faculty member at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.
Revel in this victory for at least a little while, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals followers; the Fifth is now one of four circuit courts that can tout a full lineup of judges.
- Stephen Higginson nominated to New Orleans-based federal appeals court (Times-Picayune)
- Henry Floyd Confirmed for Fourth Circuit in Rare Unanimous Vote (FindLaw's Fourth Circuit blog)
- Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (US Courts)