5th Circuit Nominee Andrew Oldham Approved -- Just Barely

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 19, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Senate confirmed Andrew Oldham to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by one vote, 50-49.

But sometimes one vote is all it takes to change everything. For the Trump administration, the latest appointment is one more step in an overhaul of the federal judiciary.

With Oldham, Trump has put three judges on the Fifth Circuit and a total of 44 nominees on the federal bench around the country. With another coming to the U.S. Supreme Court, the approval process is getting much more political.

One Vote

Oldham, general counsel to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, drew some attention because of his position in a number of high-profile cases, including issues involving abortion and gun rights. It may have helped his career in Texas, but not everywhere.

In his prior position as Texas solicitor general, he worked against Obama-era efforts to stop deportations and environmental regulations. The Senate Judiciary Committee let him through 11-0, but things changed by the time he got to the full Senate.

Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, had threatened to block Trump's nominees in protest of the president's tariffs policy. He succeeded in holding up confirmations for weeks, with only one other appeals court nominee getting approved.

After the Senate approved a non-binding resolution requiring Trump to get Congressional approval for imposing tariffs, Flake backed off his threat to stall judicial appointments.

Only 39

At age 39, Oldham is one of the youngest nominees to make it to a federal court of appeal.

William Howard Taft, who later became president, was the youngest at 34. Alex Kozinski, appointed at 35, took a different turn.

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