Greg Guidry file

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Louisiana Supreme Court Associate Justice Greg G. Guidry in New Orleans on Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed two Trump nominees for openings on Louisiana federal court benches.

State Supreme Court Justice Greg Guidry will fill an opening in the Eastern District of Louisiana and attorney James Cain, Jr. in the Western District of Louisiana in Lake Charles.

Guidry, a 58-year-old Republican who has been on the state's high court since 2009, was first nominated for the post nearly a year ago. But the Senate hadn’t reached his confirmation by the end of its term earlier this year, so the process was delayed. He replaces Kurt Engelhardt, who was recently promoted to the New Orleans-based U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A Harvey native, Guidry spent a decade as a federal prosecutor in New Orleans and six years as a judge in Jefferson Parish before being elected to the state's 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006. Two years later, he was elected to the state Supreme Court.

Cain, 54, replaces Patricia Minaldi, who died in December after retiring her seat amid struggles with alcoholism. A founding partner of the Loftin, Cain and LeBlanc law firm, Cain also had to be re-nominated after a previous nomination expired.

The vote to confirm Guidry's appointment was  53-46, while Cain was confirmed in a vote of 77-21. 

Louisiana's U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy voted to confirm both on Wednesday. 

“Justice Guidry is exceptionally qualified, having served our state well for decades and will undoubtedly continue to do so in this new position,” Cassidy said. “Mr. Cain has the extensive legal experience, temperament, and sense of fairness needed for this position”

Kennedy, a member of the Judiciary Committee that vetted both nominees twice, also expressed confidence in the appointments.

“After clerking for a judge and practicing law for 12 years, Mr. Cain is ready to step into a judgeship that has been vacant for two years. I’m pleased that he was confirmed to be the U.S. judge for the Western District of Louisiana,” said Senator Kennedy. “Justice Guidry distinguished himself as a Louisiana Supreme Court justice and as a prosecutor. He will serve the state well."

Both men faced backlash from critics over the two declining to comment on the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education racial desegregation ruling. Other candidates for the bench have faced scrutiny for taking the same path, declining to opine on existing decisions.

"Nominees for the court that issued Brown have long expressed their agreement with the decision without generating headlines. But since President Trump took office, judicial nominees’ support for Brown has gone the way of so many other democratic norms," liberal advocacy group People For the American Way wrote in a recent letter opposing Cain and Guidry's life-time appointments. "Refusal to acknowledge the correctness of the case has become commonplace."

But neither of the Louisiana nominees drew as much attention this week as appointee Matthew Kacsmaryk of Texas.

Democratic senators took turns on Tuesday rebuking Kacsmaryk's past remarks about transgender people, and the nominee came under intense fire from LGBT advocacy groups.

Kacsmaryk's appointment was confirmed in a 52-46 vote. Both Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and Kennedy, R-Madisonville, voted in favor of his appointment to the Northern Texas District opening.

Email Elizabeth Crisp at ecrisp@theadvocate.com and follow on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.