The U.S. Senate has confirmed Robert Wier as a federal judge in eastern Kentucky

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Robert E. Wier won U.S. Senate confirmation Tuesday for a judgeship, becoming the sixth Kentuckian to claim seats on district or appellate courts since Donald Trump became president as Republicans push to remake the federal bench.

Wier’s confirmation as a federal district judge for the eastern half of Kentucky continued the GOP-led Senate’s quick pace of confirming Trump’s judicial nominations for Kentucky and elsewhere. The nominees are conservatives who believe a judge’s role is to “follow the law as written or as the constitution dictates,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

“All of them have that similar view of what the role of a judge is, and virtually all of them are pretty young and will be on (the bench) for a very long period of time,” McConnell said in a phone interview. “This is probably the most long-lasting accomplishment that we can probably achieve for the country.”

As a U.S. magistrate in 2016, Wier decided to let attorney Eric Conn stay out of jail before being sentenced on charges that he defrauded the federal government of $600 million in Social Security disability benefits. But Conn fled and was caught about six months later in Honduras.

Upon Conn’s return, Wier recommended an additional 18 charges against him should not be dismissed. Conn pleaded guilty Monday to three additional charges as part of a plea agreement.

Both McConnell and Paul praised Wier on Tuesday. Paul said Wier is a “wonderful addition” to the federal district court, and McConnell pointed to the judge’s “sterling credentials.”

Since Trump took office in early 2017, he has nominated three Kentuckians for district court judgeships and three others to serve on the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul. All have won Senate confirmation.

Besides Wier, the others confirmed as federal district judges were Rebecca Jennings for the western half of Kentucky and Claria Horn Boom, who occupies a swing seat as a district court judge for both the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky.

Kentuckians confirmed for seats on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals were Amul Thapar, John Bush and John Nalbandian.

Paul, R-Ky., said in a statement that the six Kentuckians are “guided by a steadfast commitment to uphold and protect the Constitution,” and said they will be “impartial arbiters of our nation’s laws.”

McConnell said the Senate’s focus has been on confirming judges at the federal circuit court level. So far, the Senate has confirmed 21 circuit judges nationally in about a year and a half, which he called a modern record. It means one-eighth of all circuit judges in the country have been nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Republican Senate, McConnell said.


Associated Press writer Adam Beam in Frankfort, Kentucky, contributed to this report.