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Keenan confirmed, legislators to pick a replacement on Virginia Supreme Court

Anita Kumar

After four long months, the U.S. Senate confirmed Virginia Supreme Court Justice Barbara Keenan to the federal bench this afternoon.

That means state legislators will pick a replacement for Keenan before they leave town March 13.

Several names are being talked about, including former Attorney General Bill Mims, who was on the short list in 2007 when there was a vacancy. Mims is now a partner at Richmond law firm Hunton & Williams at the end of his term in January.

President Obama nominated Keenan to the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in September after U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner recommended her. A vote on her confirmation was delayed for months. The Senate confirmed her today on a 99-0 vote.

"I am disappointed that Justice Keenan's noncontroversial nomination was delayed more than four months by unnecessary filibusters that came to an end with two unanimous, bipartisan votes today,'' Warner said in a statement. "I urge my colleagues in this institution, on both sides of the aisle, to step away from the politics of obstruction and delay, and work together to move our nation and our troubled economy forward."

Keenan, 59, will be the first female judge from Virginia to serve on the federal appeals court. She served as a judge on the General District and Circuit courts of Fairfax County and the Virginia Court of Appeals.

"Justice Keenan is an extraordinary choice to fill this vacancy,'' Webb said. "She has been a dedicated public servant, a fair and balanced jurist, and a trailblazer for women in the law throughout her career. There is a wide bipartisan support for Justice Keenan in Virginia, and I know she will continue her distinguished record of service in this new capacity."

If legislators fail to pick a replacement, Gov. Bob McDonnell can fill the vacancy after the General Assembly is out of session. His appointments require confirmation by the legislature when it returns.

By Anita Kumar  |  March 2, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , James Webb , Mark Warner , State Senate  
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