FederalIssuesLocal NewsSenate Fills Six Texas Federal Judge Vacancies

Mitch McConnell's focus on filling judicial vacancies continued Wednesday as another wave of President Trump's nominees were confirmed.
August 2, 2019
Just before departing for the August recess, the Senate confirmed nine federal judges nominated by President Trump.

Four Texans were confirmed on Wednesday for a total of six Texas court vacancies filled this past week.

The four confirmed on Wednesday are Mark T. Pittman and Brantley Starr, appointed to Texas’ Northern District Court; Jeffrey Vincent Brown, appointed to Texas’ Southern District Court; and Jason K. Pulliam, to Texas’ Western District Court.

The other five were Martha Maria Pacold and Mary M. Rowland of Illinois, William Shaw Stickman IV and John Milton Younge of Pennsylvania, and Karin Immergut of Oregon.

The votes were split mostly down party lines, with a few Democrats crossing the aisle to vote for the nominees here and there.

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The only nominee to get broad bipartisan support on Wednesday was Pacold who was confirmed by a vote of 87-3. Immergut, Rowland, and Younge were all confirmed by voice vote.

Mark Pittman was confirmed 54-36. He was first appointed to Texas’ 352nd District Court in 2015 by then-Governor Rick Perry. Pittman ran unopposed in 2018 for Texas’ 2nd District Court of Appeals.

Pittman was opposed by pro-choice groups for — among other statements made by Pittman — his membership in the Federalist Society.

Brantley Starr was confirmed 51-39. Starr served in the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton as Deputy First Assistant Attorney.

In a statement, Paxton said of Starr, “As a federal judge, Brantley will continue to serve the people of Texas from the bench with the same integrity, dedication, and intellect he has been known for throughout his career.”

Starr received opposition from left-of-center legal organizations for his views on voter ID laws, encouraging state agencies to “proactively identify noncitizens on Texas voter rolls,” belief that school districts adopting the Obama Administration’s ruling on transgender children using gendered bathrooms with which they identify violated state law, and opposition to taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood (among others).

Jeff Brown was confirmed by a vote of 50-40. Brown has served on the Texas Supreme Court since 2013 when he was appointed by then-Governor Rick Perry. Brown served as a clerk for current Governor Greg Abbott when he was a Texas Supreme Court Justice.

Abbott tweeted after the confirmation, “This is an excellent appointment by the President. [Brown] has a record of applying the law as written rather than judicial activism.”

Jason Pulliam was confirmed by a vote of 54-36. Pulliam is a former Marine, district court judge, and attorney with Pritchard Young.

About Pulliam’s nomination, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) stated, “[Pulliam’s] proven record of public service, professionalism, and excellence will serve Texans well.”

Pulliam was appointed to Texas’ 4th District Court in 2015 by then-Governor Rick Perry. He lost reelection in 2016 by about 3.5 percent. 

In 2018, Pulliam lost another bid for the 4th district.

These four join Sean Jordan of Plano, who was confirmed a day earlier to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, and James Wesley Hendrix, who was confirmed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, as part of President Trump’s most recent wave of judicial nominees.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said of the newly confirmed judges, “Each of these nominees has shown their legal acumen, clear judgment, and unwavering commitment to the rule of law, and I look forward to voting for their nominations later this week.”


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.