Montana federal judge nominees to appear before Senate committee

2013-07-17T13:09:00Z 2013-09-05T07:56:04Z Montana federal judge nominees to appear before Senate committeeBy GREG TUTTLE The Billings Gazette

The two nominees for federal judgeships in Billings and Great Falls are set to appear next week for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Yellowstone County District Court Judge Susan Watters, and Montana Supreme Court Justice Brian Morris will appear Wednesday to answer questions and speak about their qualifications to committee members following their nomination in May by President Barack Obama.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time, and will include appearances by three other federal judge nominees.

The nominees must be approved by the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee before confirmation by a majority vote of the full U.S. Senate.

Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus recommended Watters to replace former U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull in Billings, and Morris to replace Senior U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon in Great Falls.

Watters, 54, has been a state District Court judge in Billings for 15 years. Morris, 49, has been a justice on the state's highest court since 2004. The federal judge position is a lifetime appointment and pays $174,000 a year.

It is unclear when confirmation hearings will be held should Watters and Morris be approved by the Senate committee.

"I'm going to keep working hard to move their nominations through the confirmation process because Judge Watters and Justice Morris are highly regarded and exceptionally qualified to serve the people of Montana on the federal bench," Baucus said Wednesday in a prepared statement.  


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