The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Kansas’ top federal prosecutor to serve on the federal bench in Wichita.

The action sends the nomination of U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren to a vote in the full Senate.


The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Kansas’ top federal prosecutor to serve on the federal bench in Wichita.

The action sends the nomination of U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren to a vote in the full Senate.

With Congress set to recess ahead of the November election, lawmakers will have to act quickly to confirm Melgren.

But Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has indicated Democratic leaders are amenable to a vote on Melgren and nine other noncontroversial judicial nominees.

Melgren is considered a solid conservative. His nomination was supported by both Kansas senators, Republicans Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts.

If confirmed, Melgren would replace U.S. District Judge Monti Belot, who took senior status earlier this year.

The confirmation process has moved swiftly for Melgren since President Bush nominated him for the lifetime appointment in July. The move to report him out of committee came just two days after the panel held his confirmation hearing.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor, said it appears Leahy moved Melgren’s nomination along as a courtesy to Brownback, who also serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Brownback and Roberts testified earlier this week that Kansas has several elderly federal judges on senior status and is in need of another active judge to handle a growing case load.

“Leahy may have been persuaded that there was a strong need for more judicial resources in Wichita,” Tobias said.

Melgren has served as U.S. Attorney since 2002, a position he obtained with Brownback’s help. Before that, he spent 15 years as an attorney at the Wichita firm of Foulston Siefkin LLP where he specialized in tax law.