WASHINGTON — The Senate on Monday unanimously confirmed Robert E. Bacharach to be a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ending a Republican blockade that kept the Oklahoma City magistrate's nomination in limbo for nearly nine months.
The vote for Bacharach was 93-0.
Bacharach will fill a seat that has been open since July 2010, when Robert Henry stepped down to become president of Oklahoma City University.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Denver, is a step below the U.S. Supreme Court and hears cases from Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, lavished praise on Bacharach on Monday, saying in a speech on the Senate floor that he represented the “upper end” of all the judicial candidates he has seen since coming to the Senate in 2005.
“You cannot find a blemish on this man in terms of his personal integrity,” Coburn said, adding that Bacharach had “one of the greatest intellects” he had come across.
“I have never met anybody who knows the Constitution — its limitations, its intent — better than Judge Bacharach,” Coburn said.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said Bacharach's “multiple years of litigation experience and public service as a federal magistrate for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma will serve him well in his new position on the 10th Circuit.
“As with all positions that come with a lifetime appointment, the deliberations over filling the vacancy can take time. But I am glad to see Judge Bacharach receive his well-deserved confirmation.”
Bacharach, 53, has been a U.S. magistrate judge since 1999 for the Western District of Oklahoma and has handled nearly 3,000 criminal and civil matters. He received the highest rating from the American Bar Association last year.
Bacharach received his bachelor's degree in 1981 from the University of Oklahoma, graduating with high honors. He received his law degree in 1985 from the Washington University School of Law.
He was nominated by President Barack Obama for the appeals court vacancy in January 2012, and he easily cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in early June.
But his nomination got caught up in election-year politics as Senate Republicans refused to allow votes on circuit court nominees in hopes that Mitt Romney would win the White House and replace Obama's nominations with his own.
Senate Democrats tried unsuccessfully in July to break the Republican filibuster of Bacharach's nomination. Despite strong support for Bacharach's nomination, Coburn and Inhofe voted “present,” officially declining to take a stand, but effectively refusing to help break the filibuster.
After the November election, Senate Republicans refused to allow a vote on circuit court nominations in the lame duck session before the last Congress ended, forcing Obama to resubmit Bacharach's name, along with others whose confirmations had been blocked.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the “unprecedented filibuster” by Senate Republicans had deprived states in the 10th circuit of a full appeals court for several months.
Leahy said Republicans had stalled votes on other judicial nominees, who were later confirmed overwhelmingly.
“It's Alice in Wonderland,” he said.
I have never met anybody who knows the Constitution — its limitations, its intent — better than Judge (Robert E.) Bacharach.”
Sen. Tom Coburn,