Senate Confirmation Hearings Begin For 2 Nominated For Federal Judgeship In Oklahoma

With just one full-time judge currently serving Oklahoma’s Northern District, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford says the need to confirm the nominations of Sara Hill and John Russell is very real.

Wednesday, November 15th 2023, 9:36 pm



-

The effort to get the federal bench in Oklahoma operating at full capacity took an important step forward Wednesday, as the Senate Judiciary Committee took up two recent nominations- one potentially historic- from President Joe Biden.

With just one full-time judge currently serving Oklahoma’s Northern District, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford says the need to confirm the nominations of Sara Hill and John Russell is very real. Lankford (R-OK) says the federal caseload has increased significantly since the Supreme Court’s S2020 McGirt decision, and he and Senator Markwayne Mullin agree Hill and Russell are ready to step in.

"We have gone through a rigorous process over the course of the last year,” Lankford told the committee, “to come up with two incredibly well-qualified candidates."

Russell is a long-time Tulsa attorney currently employed at the GableGotwals law firm, while Hill is a former Cherokee Nation Attorney General now in private practice.

Following the announcement of their nominations last month, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt criticized the nomination of Hill, claiming she lacks experience and has worked against the state's interests.

But in introducing the nominees Wednesday, Lankford expressed no such concerns and says Hill has shown she'll follow the Constitution. 

"I am confident she will serve our state and our country extremely well,” Lankford states, “and I encourage her swift confirmation."

"It’s a really big deal,” said Cherokee Nation Deputy Principle Chief Bryan Warner, who attended the hearing along with other tribal officials and members of Hill’s family.

Warner says the confirmation of Hill would send a powerful message, not just because Hill would be the first Native American woman to serve as a federal judge in Oklahoma, but because of what she represents more broadly.

"We are a matrilineal society,” Warner explained, “and Sara Hill represents our best and brightest of the Cherokee women. They are exemplary in all categories."

All of the nominees, including a judge from the Northern Mariana Islands, faced difficult questions from Senators, but Hill was challenged the most. Her supporters say she was well prepared.

"We know who Sara Hill is, we know what she stands for, we know her understanding of the law,” Warner said, “and I believe today she set the bar really high, answering these questions from the committee."

Just when the actual confirmation vote will occur is not clear. It’s possible it could happen before the end of the year, but more likely that it would be early in 2024.

logo

Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News on 6 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

November 15th, 2023

May 22nd, 2024

May 8th, 2024

April 22nd, 2024

Top Headlines

June 23rd, 2024

June 23rd, 2024

June 23rd, 2024

June 22nd, 2024