WASHINGTON – The Senate on Thursday confirmed two of President Bush's federal appeals court nominees, the first appeals court judges to be put on the bench under the deal struck between the White House and Senate Democrats.
Sen. Tom Harkin (search), D-Iowa, was the single "no" vote against Gruender.
The Democrats had stopped all confirmations for lifetime judicial seats after Bush gave temporary seats to two of his blocked nominees at the beginning of the year.
But on Tuesday, the White House and Senate Democrats announced Democrats will allow votes on 25 noncontroversial appointments to the district and appeals courts. In exchange, Bush agreed not to invoke his constitutional power to make recess appointments while Congress is away.
Congress starts its Memorial Day recess on Monday.
The Senate confirmed a U.S. District Court judge on Tuesday, but Van Antwerpen and Gruender were the first U.S. Appeals Court judges to be confirmed under the deal.
Van Antwerpen — who will serve on the court that hears federal appeals for Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands — has been on Pennsylvania's eastern district of the U.S. District Court since 1987. He graduated from the University of Maine and earned his law degree from Temple University in 1967.
Gruender has been the U.S. attorney in Missouri's eastern district since late 2001. A Washington University law school graduate, he served as an assistant federal prosecutor from 1990 to 1994.