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Washington • The Senate Judiciary Committee signed off on Ronald G. Russell's federal district court nomination Thursday, pushing the former Centerville mayor one vote away from confirmation.
But it remains unclear if that will take place as the Senate often restricts judicial confirmation votes in a presidential year. It has refused to hold a hearing or vote on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said he plans to push forward nominees through July. Russell was one of five nominees that the committee approved on a voice vote Thursday.
Obama nominated Russell in mid-December. He has the backing of Utah's two senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, who are also members of the Judiciary Committee.
"Ron is an outstanding attorney and an upstanding Utahn through and through," Lee said at Thursday's committee meeting.
After the vote, Hatch released a statement saying: "Even in this challenging political environment, senators on both sides of the aisle recognized that Ron's experience, reputation, and character make him a nominee everyone can support."
Russell is a shareholder in the Salt Lake City firm of Parr, Brown, Gee & Loveless. He focuses on commercial litigation and real estate law. He served one term on the Centerville City Council before being elected mayor in 2005. He served two terms.
If confirmed, Russell would take a District Court spot made available when Judge Ted Stewart took senior status in 2014.