Indian American judge Amul Thapar, once considered by President Donald Trump to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, is being vetted by the White House for a federal appeals court seat.
Currently a federal district court judge, Thapar is considered a frontrunner for one of two openings on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, BuzzFeed reported, citing two lawyers familiar with the process.
Amul Thapar was among the shortlisted potential nominees for Supreme Court judge picked by President Donald Trump during the Fall comapign. Thapar’s name had figured in Trump’s second list of individuals who would be considered for the nomination of a Supreme Court judge. The list was announced on September 23 last year.
When Thapar was confirmed in 2008, he became the first South Asian American to join a federal district or appeals court bench. Thapar was among the 21 names that Trump said he would consider to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court.
The nomination list now assumes significance since Trump, as the 45th president of the United States, would be in a position to nominate the three Supreme Court judges.
Thapar currently holds the position of US District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The first Article II Judge of South Asian origin, he was nominated to this position by the former Republican president George W Bush.
“He has taught law students at the University of Cincinnati and Georgetown. Thapar has served as an Assistant US Attorney in Washington and the Southern District of Ohio,” the Trump Campaign said.
Immediately prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Thapar was the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Judge Thapar received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
The lawyers told BuzzFeed that the FBI in February interviewed people who know Thapar as part of a background check, a practice that is common as a final step before a nomination process. BuzzFeed said the lawyers were not aware of any other candidates.
It’s not expected that any nominations for lower-level court vacancies will be announced until Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, is confirmed. Roughly 13 percent of all authorized federal judgeships, 120 seats to be exact, are open, the report said.
Judge Thapar is considered a strict constructionist — a conservative legal philosophy that calls for a narrow reading of the U.S. Constitution, the report added. Among his cases were the high-profile criminal case against an elderly Catholic nun convicted of breaking into a military facility used to store uranium as part of a protest. In that case, Thapar sentenced the then 84-year-old nun to 35 months in prison, less than the prosecutors’ recommended prison time.