Washington • The Senate on Wednesday confirmed former U.S. Attorney for Utah David Barlow as a federal judge in the state, a move that will help alleviate the strain on the court that now has only four full-time judges on the bench.
Barlow, who had previously served as general counsel to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, had faced little opposition in his nomination and earned the praise of Utah’s senators after President Donald Trump picked him. Barlow was confirmed on an 88-4 vote.
“Barlow’s very strong confirmation vote is not surprising,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. “He was a highly qualified, experienced, mainstream nominee with powerful home state senator support from Lee and [Sen. Mitt] Romney, who had a smooth hearing and a fine committee approval vote. I expect that he will be sworn in this week and start handling cases soon.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee had advanced Barlow’s nomination on a 19-3 vote, with dissent coming from Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, all of whom were or are running for president and voted against Barlow by proxy.
Barlow was among a string of judges approved — or expected to be approved — by the Senate this week as part of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s effort to push through as many of Trump’s judicial picks as possible.
Lee and Romney lauded the strong vote for Barlow in a joint statement.
“We have full confidence David will serve Utah and the country with honor and integrity, faithfully applying the law and our Constitution to all matters and parties that come before him,” Lee and Romney said. “We wish him well as he begins this next chapter of service to our nation as a U.S. district judge for the District of Utah.”
Barlow, a lawyer at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, an international law firm with an office in Salt Lake City, will replace Judge Clark Waddoups, who has taken senior status to hear fewer cases.
On Wednesday, Barlow’s nomination faced opposition votes from Klobuchar and Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
Lee and Barlow had known each other since they were teenagers and together attended American Legion’s Boys Nation and later Brigham Young University. Barlow later received his law degree from Yale.
President Barack Obama had picked Barlow to serve as Utah’s top federal prosecutor in 2011 when Barlow was working at the law firm Sidley Austin, where first lady Michelle Obama had previously practiced. Barlow left as a U.S. attorney in 2014.