Mills confirmed for federal judgeship
confirmed by 98-0 vote of the Senate.
By Emily Wagster
The Associated Press
JACKSON - The U.S. Senate voted 98-0 Thursday to confirm Mike Mills of Fulton for a federal judgeship in north Mississippi.
The vote came after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she wouldn't delay a vote on his nomination. She had raised concerns about an abortion case dissent in which Mills participated.
"I'm very excited and very grateful," Mills, 45, said shortly after learning of his confirmation.
Mills has been on the Supreme Court since 1995 and said he expects to remain on it until the end of the month. After that, he'll be based in U.S. District Court in Oxford. He'll also hear cases in Aberdeen and Greenville.
"The approval of Justice Mills by the Senate will give our state the benefit of a very well qualified new federal judge," said Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. "He will be a fine addition to the federal bench in Mississippi."
Mills will replace U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. of Oxford, who has taken senior status. Mills served 12 years in the Mississippi House of Representatives before then-Gov. Kirk Fordice tapped him to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. Mills won a full term in 1996.
Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who also promoted Mills' nomination to the federal judgeship, said he hoped Feinstein's questions were answered.
"Mike Mills is highly qualified by education, by experience and by demeanor," Lott said Thursday.
Feinstein had expressed concern over Mills' ruling in a case involving a woman accused of trespassing at an abortion clinic in Jackson.
Dr. Beverly McMillan said the trespassing was justified because she had information about dangerous and illegal procedures at the clinic. A Hinds County judge did not allow the testimony and McMillan was convicted on the trespassing charge.
In a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, Mills joined a dissent that said every defendant had a right to present his or her theory of a case.
National abortion rights groups had brought his vote to the attention of senators.
Feinstein's spokesman, Howard Gantman, said Wednesday that Feinstein had reviewed the record and wouldn't try to block Mills' confirmation.
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove will appoint a replacement for Mills. Musgrove will fill another vacancy when Justice Fred L. Banks of Jackson leaves the Supreme Court at the end of October to go into private law practice.