U.S. Senate confirms Landya McCafferty as new N.H. federal judge

Last modified: 12/14/2013 12:06:52 AM
The Senate yesterday confirmed Landya McCafferty for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for New Hampshire.

President Obama in May nominated McCafferty, a Portsmouth resident and federal magistrate judge since 2010, for the seat left empty when Judge Steven McAuliffe took senior status, a form of semiretirement, in April.

The vote to confirm McCafferty was 79-19.

“Landya is exceptionally qualified and experienced and will be a great addition to the federal bench for the District of New Hampshire,” said U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte in a joint statement. “We look forward to her service as the first woman to hold this position in our state now that the Senate has cleared her historic nomination.”

Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, had recommended Obama appoint McCafferty to the federal bench. Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, supported the nomination.

McCafferty may be sworn in Monday or Tuesday, said Jim Starr, clerk of the U.S. District Court in Concord.

A formal ceremony will likely follow in early 2014, he said.

There are three active judges on the court: Paul Barbadoro, Joseph Laplante and now McCafferty. She succeeds McAuliffe, who’s served on the bench since 1992 and has continued to hear cases as a senior judge.

A graduate of Harvard University and Northeastern University School of Law, McCafferty is a former teacher at St. Paul’s School in Concord who’s worked in New Hampshire’s Attorney Discipline Office and as a public defender.

Senate Democrats last month changed the rules for the filibuster, which, when invoked, had required 60 votes to advance to a final up-or-down vote on legislation and presidential nominations. Now, only a simple majority is required for most nominees – a move that drew harsh criticism from Senate Republicans.

McCafferty wasn’t considered a divisive choice for the federal bench. When the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously in September to send her nomination to the floor, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the panel, said there was “no controversy.”

But it still took her months to get confirmed. And to protest the new filibuster rule, Senate Republicans this week have opted to use all their allotted time for debate instead of proceeding to votes early, extending the confirmation process.

“I’m pleased that this morning, after several months, we are finally going to get a chance to vote on Landya McCafferty, who is a well-qualified, noncontroversial district court nominee,” Shaheen said yesterday on the Senate floor.

The Senate invoked cloture on McCafferty’s nomination by a 58-40 vote, clearing the way for a final 79-19 vote to confirm her.

On the cloture vote, Ayotte and two other Republicans supported McCafferty; all 40 “no” votes came from Republicans. On the confirmation vote, all 19 “no” votes came from Republican senators.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)


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