POCATELLO — It may have taken 19 months and two U.S. presidents, but the honorable David C. Nye became the newest U.S. District Court judge for Idaho on Friday.
Despite former President Barack Obama nominating Nye to the federal bench in March 2016 and the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary voting 16-0 in favor of his appointment, the U.S. Senate never saw the chance to vote on the appointment.
But in May, current President Donald Trump nominated Nye again with the unwavering support of U.S. Sens. James Risch and Mike Crapo, both of Idaho. Another 16-0 vote from the ABA Standing Committee and a subsequent unanimous 100-0 vote from Congress made Nye only the 12th federal judge invested in Idaho since it entered statehood in 1890.
“I offer my profound appreciation to both President Obama and President Trump for my nomination,” Nye said during closing remarks of the investiture ceremony on Friday at the U.S. courthouse in Pocatello. “It is an unbelievable honor to have the president of the United States call you into service. And to have that honor bestowed by two completely different presidents is simply unbelievable.”
Mitch W. Brown, the administrative district judge for the Idaho Sixth Judicial District, said he has known Nye for 27 years. In addition to a colleague, he called Nye a close friend, mentor and role model.
“He (Nye) is universally respected, admired and genuinely liked by all,” Brown said. “I suspect that Judge Nye’s appointment is an oddity not likely to be repeated because he was nominated by Barack Obama… and he was subsequently nominated by President Donald Trump. Now just pause and ponder upon this incredible convergence of differing personalities, ideologies and partisanship necessary to agree upon this same individual.”
Though his duties in Washington kept him from attending the investiture ceremony, Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, pre-recorded his regards, which were broadcast over video to those in the courtroom.
“I am so pleased to see District Judge follow David Nye’s name,” Risch said. “This day has literally been years in the making… In a rare display of unanimity, the Senate, without a dissenting vote and on a bipartisan basis, confirmed Idaho’s choice and that certainly is a testament to David himself.”
Nye called himself a man who doesn’t let his emotions show, adding that although you couldn’t see it on his face, he was happy and excited to receive the nomination.
“As I put on this robe, I am mindful of the important responsibilities I have assumed,” Nye said. “I approach those responsibilities with a firm resolve to bring to each case an open mind and a sense of fairness. As a lawyer and a state judge, I have long been aware of the overriding concerns of litigants for impartiality and objectivity in the decisional process. Those concerns will continue to be of paramount importance to me as an Article III trial judge.”
Nye said he credits his unanimous appointment for his ability to remain unbiased to political parties for his 10-plus years on the state bench.
“There will always be individuals and groups of people who try to undermine the independence of the judiciary,” Nye said. “Regardless of outside pressure, each judge ultimately decides whether they will resist that pressure and stand independent and impartial.”
Nye continued, “I did not take an oath to support a partisan cause or to decide any case according to popular opinion. I did not promise a certain outcome based upon any political preference or belief. My oath is not to my family or my friends, or even to my deeply held personal beliefs. My oath is to the Constitution that has served this country so well. I can promise you nothing more, but I think it is enough.”