A trio of Texans is being vetted for the empty seats, comprised of U.S. District Court Judges Xavier Rodriguez, Marina Garcia Marmolejo, and Gregg Costa, reports Texas Lawyer.
Let's take a gander at these three potential nominees.
Currently sitting on the U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Texas, Rodriguez was nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2003.
Rodriguez also served as a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court from September 2001 - 2002 and lists experience on the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council Court Administration Standing Committee. Maybe the latter will come to bear if Rodriguez is asked about Judge Jones' recent disciplinary issues.
Education-wise, Rodriguez has his undergrad from Harvard and his JD from the University of Texas, and he's an adjunct professor at St. Mary's University School of Law. Obama may choose Rodriguez as a way to appease Republican Senators, who may be less-than-helpful in the confirmation process.
Marina Garcia Marmolejo
Marmolejo is a seated judge in the U.S. District Court for Texas' Southern District -- located in Laredo -- and she was nominated by President Obama in 2010.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of the Incarnate Word (the site of a recent fatal shooting of a student) and her JD from St. Mary's University School of Law, reports the San Antonio Express-News.
Her nomination to the district court was supported by both Senate Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and she served as both a federal assistant public defender and an assistant U.S. attorney. Her past experience on both sides of federal criminal law may give her an interesting insight into issues like warrantless cell data requests.
Another nominee from Texas' Southern District -- but located in Galveston -- Costa was nominated by President Obama in 2011 and was confirmed to the federal bench in April 2012.
Costa attended law school at UT and got his BA from Dartmouth, and he clerked for both SCOTUS Chief Justice William Rehnquist (2001 - 2002) and D.C. Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph (1999-2000).
According to a White House press release when Costa was appointed, President Obama stated that Costa has "demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice throughout his career." Obama may have been referring to Costa's tenure as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2005 - 2011.
An experienced federal prosecutor who clerked with notable conservative legal figures, and Obama approved, Costa is likely to appeal to both sides of the aisle as a potential nominee.
The Texas trio's fate with the Fifth Circuit is speculative for now, but with filibuster reform in full swing, their Senate hearings may not be far off.
- 5th Circuit nominees may include a GOP judge (ABA Journal)
- Fifth Circuit Nominee Stephen Higginson Waits for Senate Vote (FindLaw's U.S. 5th Circuit Blog)
- Stephen Higginson Confirmed for Fifth Circuit in Unanimous Vote (FindLaw's U.S. 5th Circuit Blog)
- 5th Circuit to Exclude Judge From Execution Stay (FindLaw's U.S. 5th Circuit Blog)