The Senate unanimously confirmed Charlotte Judge Albert Diaz to the U.S. Court of Appeals on Saturday, ending the nation's longest judicial wait and giving North Carolina its third judge on the 4th Circuit.
Diaz will be the first Latino on the Richmond-based court.
"I'm grateful and really humbled," Diaz said, "and I look forward to serving our nation in this new capacity."
Diaz, 50, is now a special Superior Court Judge for the N.C. Business Court. He was nominated to the 4th Circuit by President Obama in November 2009.
Though unanimously endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, his nomination got tangled in partisan politics until the close of the lame-duck session.
No other judicial nominee had waited longer.
Diaz will join James Wynn Jr., who was confirmed in August, and Allyson Duncan as North Carolina's representatives on the 15-member court. North Carolina is the largest of the five states in the 4th Circuit.
"I am thrilled that Judge Diaz, a distinguished, fair-minded and well-respected judge, was confirmed," Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan said in a statement. "Now ... North Carolina will finally have fair representation on the 4th Circuit."
Added Republican Sen. Richard Burr: "I have full confidence in his ability to protect and enforce the laws of our country, and look forward to seeing the excellent judgment that he is sure to exercise in the 4th Circuit."
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said he was pleased that the Senate confirmed Diaz. "The judge deserves the public's thanks for persevering. The only question is why the Senate made the judge wait so long only to confirm him unanimously.
"The partisan paybacks must cease for the good of the nation."
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