A Texas judge moved closer to a spot on the Fifth Circuit bench after appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Judge Gregg Costa fielded questions from both sides of the aisle during his nomination hearing in the Committee, with little pushback from either side, The Dallas Morning News reports.
With little political friction, is Costa set to become the next Fifth Circuit Judge?
Vacancies on the Fifth Circuit
There are currently three open spots on the Fifth Circuit bench, and Costa is just one of three nominees that President Obama has selected to try to fill those gaps. Though these seats aren't nearly the focus of political contention like the D.C. Circuit's, which judges fill the Fifth Circuit is far from a trivial matter.
The court stands poised to make a decision in the Planned Parenthood case which could push the balance of circuits toward or against regulation. If this case is pushed to an en banc review, potential nominees like Costa may even be able to weigh in. In addition, gun advocates may be stinging after the recent NRA losses in the Fifth Circuit over gun regulation were denied hearing by SCOTUS.
These three empty seats on the New Orleans-based court present an opportunity for conservatives and liberals to attempt to shift policy on these issues -- even if just a smidge.
Mr. Costa Goes to Washington
When it comes to policy, neither Democrats or Republicans seem particularly worried about the addition of Judge Costa to the Court. While pundits and Senate Judiciary Committee members seemed almost paralyzed by the specter of Nina Pillard's "femi-nazism," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was "happy to support" Costa's nomination.
In fact, the Dallas Morning News reports that both Republicans and Democrats had recommended Costa, with Sen. Cornyn declaring his nomination as "one area where we have been able to come together."
Costa was confirmed to the federal bench in April 2012, and notably clerked for SCOTUS Chief Justice Rehnquist. This experience in addition to his six years as an assistant U.S. attorney may make Costa's confirmation a smooth ride.
- Judicial Nomination Materials: 113th Congress (U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary)
- 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. Fifth Circuit Blog)
- D.C. Circuit Nominee Pillard Blocked by Senate Republicans (FindLaw's D.C. Circuit Blog)