Harkin recommends two women for U.S. Appeals vacancy

Senator Tom Harkin has recommended federal public defender Jane Kelly and Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Mary Tabor to President Barack Obama as he considers a successor to Judge Michael Melloy on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Melloy plans to retire, effective January 30.

Background on Kelly and Tabor are after the jump. Harkin also included Tabor on the short list of candidates to fill the last vacancy on the federal bench from Iowa. Obama nominated Stephanie Rose for that judgeship in the Southern District. Rose formally began her service yesterday.

From Harkin’s November 14 statement announcing his recommendations:

Tabor, who grew up in Maquoketa, has served as an Iowa appeal court judge since May 2010. From 1993 until 2010, she worked in the Criminal Appeals Bureau of the Iowa Department of Justice, the last 10 years as the Appeals Division’s director. She supervised an office that opened nearly 800 new cases each year and filed about 375 briefs annually, including both state direct appeals and federal habeas cases. Tabor also represented the state in defending the constitutionality of numerous statutes.

Kelly, who grew up in Greencastle, Ind., worked as a law clerk on both the U.S. District Court of South Dakota and on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Since 1994, she has served as a federal defender in the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids. She has spent her career working on behalf of the most underprivileged persons in society and fought tirelessly to ensure the rights of all Iowans were protected, Harkin said. Kelly has a reputation as an extremely talented lawyer with a great sense of compassion and fairness.

Jeff Eckhoff reported for the Des Moines Register,

According to a web site for the Infinity Project at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey’s School of Public Affairs, 61 judges have served the federal Eighth Circuit (counting three who served before Congress officially established the court).

“One has been a woman, for a whopping 1.6 percent,” according to the website. “President Clinton nominated Bonnie Campbell (Iowa) but she was not confirmed” by the U.S. Senate.

Campbell’s nomination never came to a vote, because Senator Chuck Grassley put a hold on it.

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