The White House said Wednesday that it was nominating Anchorage Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason to the U.S. District Court bench.
If the Senate confirms Gleason, she would be the first woman to serve as a federal district court judge in Alaska.
But her appointment would also leave the 15-judge state Superior Court bench in Anchorage with 14 men and zero women. No governor has appointed a female superior court judge in Anchorage since Tony Knowles left office in 2002.
Gleason, the presiding judge in Anchorage, was recommended by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who praised her "judicial temperament, her fairness on the bench and her pioneering work on behalf of families and children."
Gleason will replace U.S. District Judge John Sedwick, who went on senior status last month. Sedwick is well known for presiding over most of the federal corruption cases over the last five years. As a senior judge, he can still hear cases, but at a reduced workload. Federal judges hold their jobs for life.
Begich said in a prepared statement that he recommended Gleason to the White House after considering nearly two dozen Alaska lawyers who had applied for Sedwick's position. Among them is U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler, a career prosecutor before being appointed as the top federal law enforcement officer in Alaska by President Barack Obama. She could lose her Justice Department job if Obama isn't re-elected in 2012.
In announcing Gleason's nomination, the White House said she has shown "a dedication to justice."
Republicans have blocked many of Obama's judicial nominations, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she would work to keep Gleason from that fate.
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