By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The U.S. Senate has failed to act on the nomination of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James E. Graves Jr. to a federal appeals post.

The nomination had been approved by Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 1. The Senate adjourned Wednesday without considering Graves' nomination.

Rick Curtsinger, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said President Barack Obama can resubmit Graves' name when a new Congress convenes in January.

Wicker and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., supported Graves' nomination.

Erica Chabot, the Judiciary Committee spokeswoman, said Thursday that under the Senate's rules, any nomination not acted on at the end of a Congress is returned to the president.

Graves, through a court spokesman, declined to comment.

Graves was nominated by President Obama in June to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans, hears appeals from the federal courts in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

The 56-year-old Graves is currently the only black justice on the state Supreme Court, where he's served since 2001. Before that, he was a Hinds County Circuit Court judge for 10 years.

Last fall, 5th Circuit Judge Rhesa Barksdale took senior status, leaving only one active duty black judge serving on the 5th Circuit, Judge Carl Stewart of Shreveport, La.

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