The U.S. Senate has just voted 100-0 – unanimously – to confirm the nomination of Judge David Nye to be Idaho’s next U.S. District Court judge, bringing to a close a more than two-year stretch in which Idaho was down to just one active federal district judge.
“It is rare to be nominated by presidents of different parties, but it is a fitting testament to Judge Nye’s sterling reputation that he has secured that distinction,” Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo told the Senate, in remarks yesterday ahead of today’s vote. “I appreciate the majority leader giving Judge Nye the honor of being the first U.S. district judge confirmed by the 115th Congress.”
Crapo and Idaho Sen. Jim Risch negotiated with the Obama Administration for a year and a half before settling on Nye in April of 2016 as a nominee acceptable to both then-President Obama, a Democrat, and the two Idaho senators, both Republicans. The long process included considering and rejecting dozens of other possible nominees. The nomination cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a unanimous vote in July of 2016, but never came up for a vote in the full Senate, amid partisan squabbling over the president’s judicial nominations. After President Trump took office, in consultation with the Idaho senators, he renominated Nye; the Senate Judiciary Committee forwarded the nomination to the full Senate last month.
Risch, who also addressed the Senate on Tuesday, said, “In this particular case we negotiated with the Obama White House for literally months and months that turned into years.” He said he believed both sides “acted in good faith” to find a “person that would be a good fit for Idaho. ... We vetted well over 50 individuals for this position. For one reason or another we were unable to get any of those over the finish line.”
“Judge Nye, he had not really applied,” Risch said. “After going through the 50 that we vetted … we sought out Judge Nye and talked with him about it and went forward on that basis. The White House came along.”
It is rare for a candidate for federal district judge to be nominated by two successive presidents – particularly two successive presidents from different parties, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who closely tracks judicial appointments. There is one other this year, Tobias said, Scott Palk of Oklahoma. Palk’s nomination cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee the same day as Nye’s, but has not yet come up for a vote in the full Senate.
Nye, 58, has been an Idaho 6th District judge since 2007; prior to that, he practiced law in Pocatello for 20 years, specializing in medical malpractice and insurance law. He holds both bachelor’s and law degrees from Brigham Young University.