Biden courts controversy with federal judicial nomination in GOP-dominated Wyoming

Wyoming is known as one of the nation’s most overwhelmingly Republican states with zero Democrats holding statewide or national office.

Nevertheless, President Joe Biden has an opportunity to appoint a progressive judge to the federal bench to represent the Wyoming district.

Biden expected to receive Democratic recommendations

As the Washington Examiner reported, the president’s move is expected to spark controversy among the state’s largely conservative elected leaders.

Despite its status as a GOP-leaning state, no Republican president since Ronald Reagan has had an opportunity to successfully nominate a federal judge in Wyoming.

At the heart of the current controversy is the fact that U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal announced earlier this year that she would seek senior status — a form of semi-retirement — next June.

The judge was nominated to her current post by former President Barack Obama at the recommendation of her husband Dave, who was the Democratic governor of the state at the time. She is one of the two Democratic-appointed judges out of three on the bench with jurisdiction over the state.

Under ordinary circumstances, such a vacancy would be filled in accordance with the recommendation of the highest-ranking elected state official of the president’s party. Given the GOP dominance in Wyoming, however, that is not an option for Biden.

“He will select one or more of our recommendations”

The dearth of Democratic politicians in the state means that party leaders, including chairman Joe Barbuto, will establish a special committee tasked with compiling a list of candidates to submit to the White House.

Wyoming Democratic Party communications director Nina Hebert confirmed the news in a statement to the Examiner.

“The committee is finalizing its recommendations to Chair Barbuto now,” she said. “And once Chair Barbuto receives those recommendations, he will select one or more of our recommendations from there and send those on to President Biden.”

In June, Barbuto referenced the issue by asserting that the state party is “glad to help” the president find an appropriate candidate to fill the seat set to be vacated by Freudenthal.

Although Republican lawmakers in the state have expressed a desire to weigh in on the process, Hebert indicated that she believes the president intends to nominate someone acceptable to officials on both sides of the aisle.

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