The Senate is scheduled to vote at about 5:30 p.m. on Graves’ nomination for the court. Graves, a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court, has bipartisan support, including from his state’s two Republican senators, and is likely to be confirmed.
Graves, pictured above, has been on his state’s highest court since 2001. He previously served a decade as a state trial judge after working as a lawyer in private practice and in state government.
During his confirmation hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) questioned Graves’ decision to join another justice’s 2008 dissent calling the death penalty cruel and unusual. Graves said he considered the dissent merely a plea for dialogue on the effectiveness of the death penalty, and Graves later provided a list of 22 cases in which he voted to affirm a death sentence. The issue is especially important for the 5th Circuit because it hears appeals from Texas’ large death row.
Graves is the first appellate nominee to come before the full Senate this Congress, but he’ll be far from the last. This month, White House Counsel Robert Bauer pledged a stepped-up effort to get President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees confirmed.
Also scheduled for a vote today is Edward Davila, a state trial judge nominated for U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
UPDATE (5:32 p.m.): The Senate confirmed Graves on a voice vote.
UPDATE (6:10 p.m.): The Senate confirmed Davila on a vote of 93-0.
National Law Journal photo by Diego M. Radzinschi.