One year later: No news on federal court vacancy

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

GREENVILLE – Still no answer on when the U.S. District Court seat, vacated one year ago today when Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. died, will be filled.
Spokesmen for Mississippi’s senators and one representative have no news on the judgeship, which covers the northern half of the state.
U.S. District Court judges, who can serve for life, must be nominated by the president and approved by the full Senate.
Before such a nomination gets to the Senate floor, it must pass muster with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
U.S. Attorney Felicia C. Adams is widely considered the likely nominee. She declines to comment.
Last July, a person close to the selection process confirmed to the Daily Journal that 52-year-old Adams was under review by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Key support for her must come from U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton, from whom the Obama administration apparently seeks advice about Mississippi appointments.
Thompson is the state’s only Democratic congressman, although he has no vote in the process.
Wednesday, a Thompson spokesman did not respond to Daily Journal questions about what he knew about the vacant judgeship.
Adams, a Holly Springs native, became north Mississippi’s U.S. attorney in July 2011, the state’s first black woman to hold that post.
If she is nominated and wins Senate approval, she will become the region’s first black district judge and the state’s first black female district judge.
She is the second black person and first female to serve as U.S. attorney in Mississippi.
If Adams is to become Pepper’s successor, she must do so with the support of Sens. Thad Cochran of Oxford and Roger Wicker of Tupelo, both Republicans.
When she was nominated for U.S. attorney, both men voiced praise for her selection and voted for her appointment.
Spokesmen for both of their offices say they have not had any contacts from the Obama administration about the vacancy.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com