Senate confirms Sarah Saldaña for U.S. attorney in Dallas

Sarah Saldaña, a 1984 graduate of SMU's Dedman School of Law, is the state's first Latina chief prosecutor.

ByTodd J. Gillman

Texas has four new Obama-picked U.S. attorneys, ending an unusual delay that left Bush-era holdovers and other caretakers in place for more than half of the current president's term.

The Senate confirmed career prosecutor and corruption fighter Sarah Saldaña as chief federal prosecutor in the Dallas-based Northern District of Texas, and colleagues for the state's other jurisdictions.

Nearly every other state had an Obama-appointed U.S. attorney long ago. . .

Obama nominated Saldana and the others on June 27, ending a stalemate that had outlasted the midpoint of his term in the White House.

By then, he had long ago filled slots in most of the other 93 jurisdictions around the country.

The standoff pitted Texas' senators, both Republicans , and Texas Democrats in the U.S. House who insisted that with a Democrat  in the White House, they deserved input on nominations. But Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, noting that senators can fairly easily block home-state nominees, threatened to block any who didn't submit to vetting by a bipartisan panel of Texas lawyers they set up, and whom they didn't themselves recommend to the White House.

But that only explains part of the delay. Cornyn and Hutchison urged Obama to nominate Saldana and the other new Texas U.S. attorneys in October 2009. They, along with the state's Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House, have been openly frustrated at the delay.

Saldaña had strong backing from prominent Latino leaders and many Democrats. But Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, initially objected, reportedly over complaints about her prosecution of local black leaders, among them former Dallas City Council member Don Hill and former state Rep. Terri Hodge. Johnson later embraced the nomination.

Read the full story.

Related Link:

The Dallas Morning NewsCornyn, Hispanic leaders push for U.S. attorney nominee (14 May 2010)

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