21 Trump Appellate Nominees Now Confirmed

The wave of Senate confirmations of President Donald Trump’s federal appeals court nominees continued with the approval of two more candidates May 15.

The Senate confirmed John B. Nalbandian to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, by a vote of 53-45, and Joel M. Carson III to the Tenth Circuit by a 77-21 vote.

Senate Republicans have now confirmed 21 appeals court nominees under Trump, in some cases capitalizing on vacancies kept open by Senate Republicans under President Barack Obama. They plan to confirm more candidates regularly as November midterm elections approach.

Nalbandian will be a conservative voice at the Sixth Circuit, Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, Richmond, Va., who focuses on judicial nominations, told Bloomberg Law.

Nalbandian will be the second Asian Pacific American to sit on the Sixth Circuit. He’s a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, Cincinnati, where he’s focused on appellate matters.

Carson will bring valuable expertise concerning oil, gas, and natural resources to the Tenth Circuit, Tobias said.

Carson is a part-time magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico and a partner at Carson Ryan LLC, Roswell, N.M.

Conservative Voice

An active Republican, Nalbandian has been a member of the Cincinnati lawyers chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative organization, since 1991. He served as the chapter’s president from 2000–2008, according to his responses to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a progressive organization, criticized the confirmation of Nalbandian, whom they described as a defender of “discriminatory photo ID laws.”

Nalbandian was scrutinized at his confirmation hearing for declining to say if Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, was rightly decided.

He’s been a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association since 2008, and he was a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.

From 2010 to 2016, he served as general counsel to the Republican Party of Kentucky. He advised the campaign of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during that time.

Despite his connections to Republicans, Obama, a Democrat, nominated him to the State Justice Institute’s board in 2009.

The institute awards grants to state courts systems, including grants for combating human trafficking.

Natural Resource Experience

Carson’s confirmation was less contentious than Nalbandian’s.

Carson had the support of both Democratic senators from his home state of New Mexico, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall.

His expertise on natural resource law will be important to the Tenth Circuit because it’s a “staple” on that court’s dockets, Tobias said.

Natural resources often come into play in cases involving public lands, and the Tenth Circuit covers a large amount of such lands, Tobias said.

Carson was general counsel of Mack Energy Corp. from 2008 to 2013.

His law firm practice has focused on matters including energy litigation, according to his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire responses.

Besides litigation, Carson has also advised clients about “energy development projects including wind energy and biomass generation.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick L. Gregory in Washington at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com