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Trump picks Gallagher for federal court seat in Baltimore

Obama's choice of Gallagher had stalled in GOP-led Senate

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will nominate U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher for a seat on the federal district court in Baltimore.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Gallagher would succeed U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr., who retired in February 2016.

Gallagher had previously been nominated to the seat by President Barack Obama, a Democrat, but her nomination stalled in 2016 as the Republican-led Senate refused to schedule a floor vote in hopes Trump would win the presidency that fall and make his own nomination.

The stratagem worked but Trump opted to re-nominate Gallagher, a 1997 Harvard Law School graduate who has served as a magistrate judge in Baltimore since 2011.

From 2002 to 2008, she was an assistant U.S. attorney for Maryland, serving in the criminal division. Gallagher then co-founded and served as a partner in the Baltimore law firm Levin & Gallagher LLC, handling white-collar criminal defense, complex civil litigation and employment disputes.

Gallagher began her legal career with a two-year clerkship for U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz in Baltimore, after which she worked as a litigation associate at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in Washington, according to a biography provided by the White House.

Maryland’s then-U.S. senators, Democrats Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, had forwarded Gallagher’s name to Obama to fill Quarles’ seat. The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee recommended that the full Senate vote for confirmation, but that vote did not occur.

Mikulski has since retired from the Senate and was succeeded in 2017 by Chris Van Hollen, also Democrat.

Cardin and Van Hollen praised Gallagher’s re-nomination in a joint news release Thursday.

“Judge Gallagher brings tremendous experience to the courtroom as a sitting U.S. magistrate judge in Baltimore, as well as being a former prosecutor, private law firm attorney and judicial law clerk,” Cardin stated. “Her strong roots in the Maryland legal community and tremendous understanding and respect for the rule of law make her an exceptional nominee. I was pleased to recommend Judge Gallagher’s nomination to both President Obama and President Trump, and I am confident that she will serve the people of Maryland well once confirmed as a U.S. district judge for the district of Maryland.”

Stated Van Hollen: “Judge Gallagher has worked on behalf  of Marylanders for years, and her experience and temperament make her an outstanding nominee for this position. I was proud to recommend her to the (Trump) administration with my full support, and I will continue to push forward her confirmation in the Senate. She will be an excellent asset to our state and country in the role as a U.S. district judge for the district of Maryland.”

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