[JURIST] The US Senate official website] on Monday confirmed Judge Andre Davis, President Barack Obama's nominee to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website], by a vote of 72-16 [roll call vote]. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website], the Davis confirmation was delayed [press release] by Republicans for five months after the committee reported the nomination to the Senate by a vote of 16 to 3. Davis was nominated to the court by then-president Bill Clinton in October 2000, and renominated by Obama in April 2009. Davis was the sixth of Obama's judicial nominees to be confirmed by the Senate. The other confirmations [materials] include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor [JURIST news archive], Second Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch, and three federal district court judges. Immediately after Davis's confirmation, the Senate confirmed the seventh Obama nominee, federal district Judge Charlene Honeywell.
The Fourth Circuit encompasses West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Before the Davis confirmation, five of the 15 seats on the court remained vacant. Of the 10 sitting judges, five were appointed by Democrats and five were appointed by Republicans. Davis is the sixth Democratic nominee, which could shift the balance of the court [AP report]. In recent years, the Fourth Circuit has ruled [JURIST news archive] on controversial issues. The court upheld the death sentence for DC sniper John Allen Muhammad, who is scheduled to be executed Tuesday [JURIST reports]. During the Bush administration, the court upheld the indefinite detention [JURIST report] of those labeled "enemy combatants."