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Senate Confirms Paul Watford for Ninth Circuit Bench

By Robyn Hagan Cain on May 22, 2012 9:13 AM

After seven months of confirmation limbo, the Senate confirmed Los Angeles attorney Paul Watford for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Monday evening by a 61-34 vote, reports The Hill.

Watford will be the second African American on the court.

While the American Bar Association rated Watford "unanimously well-qualified" for the position, some Republicans, including Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, opposed Watford's nomination based on his past opposition to the death penalty and the Arizona immigration law. Sen. Grassley said, "My opposition to this nomination is based upon substantive concerns that I have based on Mr. Watford's views on immigration and the death penalty ... I have other concerns this nominee has taken in his legal advocacy as well as his presentations," The Hill reports.

President Obama nominated Watford to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in October. Widely-considered a moderate, Watford is an Orange County native. He attended the University of California at Berkeley (BA, '89) and UCLA School of Law (JD, '94).

After law school, he clerked for Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Prior to his federal appellate court confirmation, Watford worked as a partner at Munger, Tolles, and Olson LLP, an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, and an associate at Sidley & Austin LLP in Los Angeles.

After Paul Watford's confirmation on Monday, and Judge Jacqueline Nguyen's confirmation earlier this month, there is only one nominee awaiting confirmation to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Hurwitz. You may recall Obama nominated Judge Hurwitz to fill Judge Mary Schroeder's seat on the bench in November.

President Obama has now nominated 4 of the 44 judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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