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Sen. Tom Coburn clears the way for hearings for two Oklahoma judicial nominees

The nominations for two long-vacant judicial positions may soon go before a Senate committee now that Sen. Tom Coburn has given the green light. The White House has struggled to find judicial candidates that meet with the approval of Oklahoma's senators.
BY CHRIS CASTEEL Published: May 1, 2012

— U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn on Monday cleared the way for two Oklahomans nominated for federal judgeships to have hearings in the Senate.

Coburn's move means the Senate Judiciary Committee could hold hearings soon on the nominations of federal judge magistrate Robert E. Bacharach and Tulsa attorney John Dowdell.

Bacharach, of Edmond, has been nominated for a vacancy on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is a step below the U.S. Supreme Court.

The position has been vacant for two years as the White House and Oklahoma's two senators have struggled to find a candidate on which they could agree.

Dowdell has been nominated for a U.S. district judgeship in Tulsa. The White House and Oklahoma's senators have also clashed over that position; in December, the Senate sent back President Barack Obama's first nominee, federal prosecutor Arvo Mikkanen, for the post after Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, refused to clear him for a hearing.

Obama nominated Bacharach three months ago. Inhofe gave his approval for a hearing in March.

Coburn said Monday that he was comfortable with both nominees, but wanted to wait until the Judiciary Committee had completed its review before approving a hearing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, after hearings, will vote on whether to send the nominations to the full Senate.

Bacharach has received the highest possible rating — unanimously well-qualified — from the American Bar Association.Since 1999, he has handled more than 3,000 civil and criminal matters as a magistrate judge in Oklahoma City .

Dowdell has been in private practice in Tulsa since 1983.


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