June 20, 2019

Senate Judiciary Committee Advances McElroy Nomination

19-3 vote advances U.S. District Court nomination to full Senate

Washington, DC – Four years after she was initially nominated by President Barack Obama, and over a year after she was nominated and then re-nominated by President Trump, Mary S. McElroy’s long delayed nomination to serve on the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island took an important step forward today when she was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote of 19-3.  This marks the third time that McElroy, who leads the office of the Rhode Island Public Defender, has been approved by the Judiciary Committee. 

McElroy was first nominated in 2015 and was one of 20 Obama nominees to advance through the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2016, but was never scheduled for a confirmation vote by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  After she was renominated by President Trump, she was also approved by the Judiciary Committee in the fall of 2018, but once again, did not receive an up or down vote in the full U.S. Senate before her nomination expired at the end of the last Congress.

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, recommended McElroy for the seat on the federal bench and have strongly backed her nomination.  Today, Reed and Whitehouse stated:

“Mary McElroy is a talented, dedicated public servant who is well suited to serve the people of Rhode Island on the federal bench.  Today’s bipartisan vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee is a long overdue step forward.  We urge the Majority Leader to schedule a confirmation vote so that Rhode Island’s federal court can serve justice and work at full capacity.”

If a vote is scheduled, it will require a simple majority.  Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber.

A Warwick native, Mary McElroy is the first woman in Ocean State history to serve as Rhode Island’s chief public defender and is tasked with providing high-quality legal representation for Rhode Islanders who cannot afford to hire an attorney in criminal, juvenile, and parental rights cases.  McElroy has over twenty years of legal experience at the state and federal level, having previously served as Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Office of the Federal Defender for the United States District of Rhode Island and as Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Rhode Island Public Defender.

McElroy, who resides in East Greenwich, graduated with honors from Suffolk University School of Law and holds an undergraduate degree in history from Providence College.  She clerked for the Honorable Donald F. Shea of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.  McElroy also has experience in private practice as an associate with the Providence law firm Tate & Elias.

If confirmed, McElroy would fill a vacancy created by Judge Mary M. Lisi, who assumed senior status in 2015.



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