How powerful are U.S. senators? Robert E. Bacharach and Al Armendariz would attest that they are plenty powerful.
Bacharach's chances to become a member of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver are much better today, after Sen. Tom Coburn cleared the way for the nomination to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bacharach's name had been offered in late January by President Obama, but Coburn, R-Muskogee, only signed off on it Monday. Backing of both U.S. senators is critical in the process; Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, had given his imprimatur in March.
Oklahomans should hope for smooth sailing from here out. The 10th Circuit position, traditionally held by an Oklahoman, has been vacant far too long — since July 1, 2010, when Robert Henry became president of Oklahoma City University. Obama first considered nominating someone from outside the state, which angered members of our congressional delegation. Then last summer, Coburn nixed the potential nomination of University of Tulsa law school dean Janet Levit.
After that, Coburn asked former Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Turpen to provide names of potential Democratic nominees. Bacharach, a highly regarded federal magistrate in Oklahoma City, was on the list. Now he may be on his way to Denver.