Senate confirms Wynn's nomination

Washington correspondentAugust 6, 2010 

— After months of his nomination's languishing on the U.S. Senate calendar, Judge James A. Wynn Jr. of Raleigh was confirmed late Thursday to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a position for which he was first nominated in 1999.

Wynn, 56, was confirmed as part of a procedural move known as "unanimous consent," in which a motion proposed on the Senate floor passes barring an objection by another senator.

Such moves provide little drama on the surface but are usually the product of intense negotiation between Republican and Democratic leaders.

Left behind, at least for now, was Charlotte Judge Albert Diaz.

Diaz was nominated alongside Wynn last fall by President Barack Obama.

The men had a joint hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and their supporters had hoped their nominations would move forward together in the Senate.

In a flurry of last-minute activity before the Senate heads out of town for its August recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stood up just before 8 p.m. Thursday to offer Wynn's name for confirmation, along with three judicial nominees from South Carolina and Delaware. All were approved.

With his confirmation, Wynn will fill a vacant seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wynn currently serves on the N.C. Court of Appeals. He was first nominated for higher court under President Bill Clinton, but he was blocked by Sen. Jesse Helms.

Both Wynn and Diaz were voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January but have been waiting for a full Senate vote, caught up in the partisan dispute over Obama nominees.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, spent much of her first year in office lobbying the administration to expand North Carolina's representation on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last month, Hagan asked unanimous consent for brief debates and votes on the two nominees, but Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell objected, and the request was denied.

Seat was long vacant

Wynn fills a seat on the 4th Circuit bench that has been open since 1994.

It's unclear how soon the other seat will be filled. The Senate did not take up Diaz' nomination Thursday, but he is widely regarded as a less controversial choice than Wynn.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, also supported the nominations of Wynn and Diaz.

bbarrett@mcclatchydc.com or 202-383-0012

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