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Obama has opportunity to leave imprint on 10th Circuit Court

President Barack Obama has four spots to fill in 2013 on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a tribunal that serves Oklahoma. Obama's four picks will bring the Democratic president's nominees for the court to five of its 12 full-time judges.
BY ROBERT BOCZKIEWICZ, For The Oklahoman Published: December 31, 2012

Obama's only nominee to the court who has received confirmation is Judge Scott Matheson Jr., of Salt Lake City, who the Senate confirmed in December, 2010.

Bacharach's future

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who studies and comments on the federal judicial appointment process, thinks Obama will avoid potential obstacles from Republican senators this year.

“I'm sure that Bacharach will be confirmed soon,” Tobias said.

He said Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe “didn't want to buck the GOP leadership” in the closing weeks of the 2012 congressional session.

For the president to have his nominees for the Kansas, Utah and Wyoming spots confirmed, it will be critical for the president's advisers to consult with Republican senators from those states before making nominations, Tobias said.

“I think that Obama can fill these vacancies,” just as he has filled large numbers of vacancies in other federal circuit courts, the professor said.

“The 10th Circuit Court may change because as Justice (Byron) White used to say of the United States Supreme Court, one new justice changes the dynamics,” Tobias said.

Four new 10th Circuit judges will be a third of the active judges.

“So much will depend on who the appointees are,” Tobias said.

“I would expect the president's other nominees to be like Matheson and Bacharach — well-qualified, mainstream jurists — who will decide each case as it arises on the merits,” the professor said.