WASHINGTON — Baton Rouge will have a new federal judge after Shelly D. Dick finally received full U.S. Senate confirmation Thursday on a voice vote without any opposition.
Dick, of Baton Rouge, will take the bench as the first female judge in the Middle District of Louisiana more than a year after she was originally nominated by President Barack Obama in April 2012.
Dick is a founding partner in Forrester & Dick, a Baton Rouge law firm specializing in litigation. She will replace former Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph E. Tyson, who died in 2011.
“I feel ready to roll up my sleeves today and get to work,” Dick said Thursday in a phone interview.
Dick said she plans to start work this month after receiving the president’s commission and informally taking the oath of office. A more formal swearing-in ceremony will take place later after she has already begun working with the other judges to address the case backlogs, she said.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who first recommended Dick as one of her top three selections, moved for the voice vote Thursday after an arrangement was finally reached to proceed with confirmation.
Landrieu called it “high time” that the district has a female judge.
Landrieu described Dick as being “equipped with decades of federal court litigation experience” and having a “fair and even-handed” temperament appropriate for serving as a judge.
“She’s got a well-rounded legal career and she’s very active in her community, including her church and missionary work,” Landrieu said. “I’m sorry it’s taken so long for the Senate to get her to this point.”
Dick was blocked initially by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who said he was holding out hope that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney would defeat Obama. After Obama won re-election last year, Vitter withdrew his block and said he backed Dick receiving a fast-tracked confirmation process.
Dick was the only federal judge nominee stalled out of five nominations Obama made at the same time in April.
“As I’ve said before, she’ll serve well,” Vitter said Thursday.
Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who follows the federal judiciary, said it was unfortunate it took so longer for her confirmation given how easily she was approved on Thursday.
“A voice vote is great,” Tobias said. “That means she was so qualified and noncontroversial that she didn’t even require a roll-call vote.”
“It’s great to have another judge in the district, who will help move case loads,” Tobias added. “So it’s great for Louisiana.”
But Tobias said the national problem remains of about 10 percent judicial vacancies as Republicans slow nearly all of Obama’s nominations to a crawl.
“They’ve just been moving slowly,” Tobias added. “I don’t think it has to do with her. They’re just going in order.”
Dick is a native of El Paso, Texas, who moved to Baton Rouge when she started LSU Law School in 1985.