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Senate Panel Confirms Six Obama Nominees For Arizona Federal Judgeships

The Hon. Diane Humetewa has been nominated to the Phoenix court.
(Screenshot courtesy of webcast footage from the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary)
The Hon. Diane Humetewa has been nominated to the Phoenix court.

A U.S. Senate Committee has approved six nominees to the federal bench in Arizona. Arizona's Republican senators are getting credit for helping move the process along.

Six of the 13 federal judgeships in Arizona are vacant, in one of the nation's busiest district courts. A month ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from the Obama administration's nominees for the open jobs.

Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake had urged the committee to act, after the court declared a "judicial emergency." Among the nominees is Diane Humetewa, former U.S. Attorney for Arizona. She would be the first Native American woman to sit on the federal bench.

Thursday, the committee recommended that the six nominations go before the full Senate to be confirmed. President Obama's nominees for a variety of posts have often faced delays from Congressional Republicans. The liberal advocacy group People for the American Way called this a step toward fixing the judicial vacancy rate in Arizona, but noted that there are 28 people awaiting confirmation ahead of these nominees.

Nick Blumberg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2014.