CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Gina Marie Groh as a federal judge for West Virginia's Northern District on Thursday.
President Obama nominated Groh, a circuit judge for Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties, to the federal judgeship last May, after she was recommended by U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved her appointment in October, but the full Senate did not vote on her until Thursday.
Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a deal Wednesday to permit a Senate vote on several judicial nominees in the coming weeks. The Obama administration has said Republicans were unfairly blocking federal judicial candidates; Republicans made the same claims about Democrats during the George W. Bush administration.
The Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia has been without a sitting judge since the death of Judge W. Craig Broadwater in 2006.
In February 2007, Rockefeller and then-Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., recommended Charleston lawyer Ned Rose for the federal judgeship. Then-President Bush ignored that recommendation and nominated Martinsburg lawyer William Powell in May 2007, but Powell never received a vote in the Senate.
After Obama took office in January 2009, Byrd and Rockefeller again recommended Rose for the federal bench, but Rose withdrew his nomination six months later.
On Thursday, Rockefeller hailed Groh's confirmation as a "great day for West Virginians."
"I couldn't be more pleased that the Senate confirmed Judge Groh," Rockefeller said. "She is a talented and fair judge who has dedicated her career to serving the people of our state."
"I believe that Judge Groh's experience, intellect, leadership, impartiality and deep roots in the community make her a prudent choice for the vacancy in the Northern District of West Virginia," Manchin said before the Senate. "She exemplifies not only the qualities of a talented jurist, but also the high moral character and sense of justice necessary to make a great judge."
Groh, a 1989 graduate of the West Virginia University law school, worked in several law firms before serving as assistant prosecutor in Berkeley and Jefferson counties. In 2006, then-Gov. Manchin appointed her a 23rd Judicial Circuit judgeship. She was the first female judge in that circuit and, at the time of her appointment, was only the third female judge in West Virginia.
Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.