The nomination of Nashville attorney Jane Branstetter Stranch, a partner in Branstetter Stranch & Jennings, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit appears to be close to becoming an actual appointment.
Stranch was nominated by President Barack Obama in August and has gained the support of Tennessee's two Republican U.S. Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.
So far, Stranch has avoided the controversy and fate of the last Nashville attorney to be nominated for a judicial seat. Gus Puryear, executive vice president and general counsel for Corrections Corp. of America, was nominated by then-President George W. Bush for a spot on the U.S. District Court, but saw his nomination derailed by Democratic senators and labor and community activists.
The support of Alexander and Corker appears to have helped Stranch navigate real opposition from within the Republican caucus of the U.S. Senate. Although a minority in the legislative body, that group could place a "hold" on her status and seriously delay or deny the appointment.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, did question Stranch about her work for labor unions at a recent committee hearing. She told him that that she would be able to "put aside" her past work and said, "If I have the privilege of serving, I will do what the law calls me to do – not to be a respecter of anyone, but to be an equal treater of all."
The answer must have been good enough for Sessions, who called her a "good nominee."
A vote on Stranch could come anytime in the next few weeks, but in the world of D.C. politics, anything could happen. If a senator has a problem with a nominee for most any position that takes Senate approval, a whole train load of appointments could become stalled indefinitely.
Contacted by NashvillePost.com and asked to comment on her nomination process, Stranch declined.
Still on the radar and yet to be nominated is the position that Puryear had hoped for on the U.S. District Court. Once that position appears to be settled, it is likely that new appointments to head up the U.S. Marshal's office and the U.S. Attorney's office would be forthcoming. But, don't expect the latter two to come into play until next year.