Senate panel — but not Lee — backs Utah judicial nominee
Politics • Salt Lake City attorney faces a vote in the full Senate.
Published: April 27, 2012 08:03AM
Updated: August 5, 2012 11:35PM
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Robert Shelby has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be a federal judge in Utah. His appointment cleared the Judiciary Committee Thursday and awaits a vote in the full Senate. Courtesy image

Washington • The Senate Judiciary Committee signed off on the judicial nomination of Robert Shelby, who is now just one confirmation vote away from being Utah’s next federal judge.

Shelby has the support of Utah’s two senators — Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee — though Lee voted against his nomination Thursday as part of his protest against four recess appointments President Barack Obama made at the beginning of the year.

Lee’s was the only vote in opposition, though he made clear to express his “unequivocal support” for the nominee.

Lee called Shelby, a partner in the Salt Lake City firm of Snow, Christensen & Martineau, “a pre-eminently qualified lawyer with a very distinguished career both within and outside the legal profession. He’ll be an outstanding judge, and I look forward to his confirmation.”

Hatch outlined Shelby’s résumé for the Judiciary Committee, noting that he graduated from the University of Utah before going to law school at the University of Virginia.

Shelby was also a member of the Utah Army National Guard from 1988 to 1996.

“Our state is growing fast, and our federal judges really do work hard. Filling this final vacancy is important and I appreciate you helping to move it forward. It means a lot,” Hatch told his colleagues.

Utah had two judicial vacancies, the first filled in late March when the Senate confirmed David Nuffer. A final vote on Shelby’s nomination is expected in the next few months.

mcanham@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mattcanham