David Nye, a state judge from Pocatello, was approved by a 100-0 vote Wednesday in the U.S. Senate to serve as a U.S. district court judge in Idaho.
It marks the first approval of a federal judge since President Donald Trump took office in January, according to U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho, who had pushed for Nye’s appointment with both Trump and former President Barack Obama.
“This should be an honor for Judge Nye and I’m sure he views it that way,” Risch said Tuesday during remarks on the Senate floor.
Nye, 58, will fill the judgeship vacated by the 2015 retirement of Judge Edward J. Lodge. Lodge, who served as a state judge for 23 years, as a federal bankruptcy judge for a year and as a federal district judge since 1989, has continued to work nearly a full caseload as a senior judge while the seat was vacant.
The Idaho courts have also received assistance from visiting federal judges brought from Utah, Washington and Northern California.
Members of Idaho’s congressional delegation tweeted out their congratulations following the vote.
“Judge Nye is a well-respected jurist in Idaho and is heavily involved in the training and orientation of new judges. I congratulate Judge Nye on his confirmation and am confident he will continue to serve the people of Idaho and its legal community well into the future, Crapo said in a written release.
The nomination process following Trump’s renomination moved forward at “warp speed,” Carl Tobias, the Williams Chair in Law at the University of Richmond School of Law in Virginia, told the Statesman.
Nye was initially nominated for the federal seat by Obama, a Democrat, following a year and a half of negotiations with Risch and Crapo to find a nominee supported by all three men. However, the Senate did not vote on the nomination before Obama left office. Trump resubmitted Nye’s nomination just two months ago.
Tobias said while Nye had a smooth hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee while Obama was still in office, the Republican majority in the Senate never brought his appointment to a vote.
It helped Nye that Risch and Crapo, both Republicans, strongly supported the judge and that Trump renominated him at their recommendation, Tobias said.
“Nye’s easy confirmation has national implications because it shows one way that Trump can swiftly fill the 107 district court vacancies — (by renominating) Obama’s nominees whom home state senators support,” Tobias said.
Idaho’s two federal judges handle a heavy caseload, 493 cases annually for each judge, compared to a national average of 400 cases, Tobias said.
Nye has served on the Sixth District bench since 2007, handling criminal and civil cases.
Before that, he worked in private practice with the Pocatello firm of Merrill & Merrill, where he specialized in malpractice and insurance law. He joined that firm in 1987 and became a partner two years later.
Nye earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in 1982, followed by a law degree from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1986. From 1986 to 1987, he served as a law clerk for Judge George G. Granata of Idaho’s Fifth District Court.
Nye joins Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, who is also from Pocatello, at the Boise-based federal court. The judges cover cases in Boise and at satellite courts in Pocatello and Coeur d’Alene.
Federal judges serve lifetime appointments.