Republican-leaning Wyoming Will Receive New Democratic Federal Judge

Wyoming may be the most “red state” in America. Former President Trump defeated current President Biden by 70 percent to 27 percent in the county. 

Wyoming has two senators and one representative. The GOP controls state government and the legislature.

However, one area where Democrat presidents have persisted in imprinting on the state is federal judicial appointments. Since 1985, no Republican has proposed a federal judge for Wyoming, due to scheduling and retirements. 

It was also the year President Ronald Reagan proposed (and the Senate approved) US District Court Judge Alan Bond Johnson, who still serves.

Possible Candidates

The Republican-nominated federal judge shortage will continue. The Biden administration can nominate U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal for the District of Wyoming. 

In June, Freudenthal, the spouse of former Democrat Gov. Dave Freudenthal, said she would become a senior, creating a seat on the three-person district committee in June 2022.

The Wyoming Democratic Party Communications Director, Nina Hebert, informed the Washington Examiner a panel was formed to examine alternatives for the president’s approval.

Herbert stated the group is now completing its suggestions for Barbuto. Chair Barbuto will then choose one or more of the proposals to transmit to President Biden.

While Democrats have limited authority in the state led by Republican Gov. Mark Gordon, the choice is up to Biden and the US Senate. 

With a 50-50 Senate divide, the president’s party already confirmed 40 federal court candidates. In his first year, Trump appointed 22 federal judges and 226 in his single term.

Wyoming Republicans have been silent about a White House proposal. Several GOP-led states, notably Tennessee and Idaho, recently voiced concerns about the administration’s judicial nominations, expecting Biden to step in.

The “Blue Slip”

In November, Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch wrote to the Biden administration, asking for a meeting to discuss the state’s federal district court judge opening.

During the Trump administration, then-Senate Judiciary Chair of the committee, Chuck Grassley, removed the “blue slip” requirement for circuit judges. This required senators to send a blue slip paper, indicating their support for a candidate.

It’s not like the “blue slip” is a legally enforceable requirement. It’s questionable, said Russell Wheeler, a Brookings Institution governance specialist.

The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, permitted states with Republican senators to have a role in choosing a judge.

What’s in store for Biden? It’s difficult to say, since he’s only recommended one candidate to the Court of Appeals, generally allocated to a Republican senator’s state, Tennessee, and four to district courts, Wheeler noted.

Hebert added Biden aims to have a candidate who has Wyoming’s support in Congress. Hebert said Biden is a former senator who wants to work across the aisle.

It’s unclear if their delegation will back his eventual choice. Reporters called Frank Eathorne, John Barrasso, and Cynthia Lummis, but received no answer.