UPDATES & ANALYSIS

11.15

Senator Harkin Recommends Two for Eighth Circuit Vacancy

by Ryan Koopmans | November 15, 2012

By Ryan Koopmans

Yesterday, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin forwarded two names to President Obama to fill a vacancy being left by Eighth Circuit Judge Michael Melloy, who will take senior status on January 30.  Making the cut: Jane Kelly, a federal public defender from Cedar Rapids, and Mary Tabor, a judge on the Iowa Court of Appeals.  While those recommendations do not restrain the President’s nomination power (he can choose whomever he wants), presidents do not generally stray outside a home-state senator’s recommendations.

Kelly, a law school classmate of President Obama, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991.  She then clerked successively for South Dakota Federal Judge Donald Porter and Eighth Circuit Judge David Hansen.  From 1993-1994, she taught at the University of Illinois College of law, and since 1994 she’s worked as an assistant federal public defender in Cedar Rapids.

Judge Tabor graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1991, and began her career at the Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C.   She joined the Iowa Attorney General’s office in 1993, where she practiced until her appointment by Governor Chet Culver to the Court of Appeals in 2010.

Judge Tabor was also on Harkin’s short list for the recent vacancy on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.  President Obama ultimately appointed Stephanie Rose, who was sworn in this week.  At the age of 39, Judge Rose is the youngest federal judge in the United States.

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