SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Senate confirmed Scott M. Matheson Jr. to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday.
Matheson — who is currently the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair at the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law — was nominated for the position by President Barack Obama in March. He was approved by a senate committee in June.
Upon his nomination, Matheson said he was "deeply honored." His brother Tom said everyone is very happy that the confirmation went through.
"It means a lot to the family," he said. "My grandfather was a U.S. attorney and the whole family grew up being involved with the federal judges in town. It's the pinnacle of a legal career and that's what my brother has been working for his whole life."
The former U. of U. law school dean, U.S. attorney for Utah and gubernatorial candidate was congratulated on his appointment in an e-mail from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who said Matheson is a "bright, seasoned attorney whose experiences, integrity and temperament make him well-suited for judicial service."
He also cited Matheson's family history.
"The Matheson family has a history of public service in Utah, and I'm sure they are justifiably proud that Scott will carry on that legacy," Hatch wrote.
Matheson is the son of two-term governor Scott Matheson Sr. and brother to Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. He attended Stanford and Yale universities in addition to Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
A Salt Lake City native, he graduated from East High School.
He will be one of 10 active judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles cases from Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and Wyoming.
Matheson replaced 10th Circuit Judge Michael W. McConnell, who retired in August 2009, on the court that handles appeals from federal district court before they reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Matheson was one of many whose name came up amid complaints that the Obama administration was languishing in filling judicial posts in Utah.
U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman stepped down Dec. 31, 2009, as is customary, to allow the new president to appoint an attorney. In the meantime, Carlie Christensen was named acting U.S. attorney for Utah, but after the 90-day time frame expired, she was appointed by the attorney general to a 120-day term as U.S. attorney for Utah as the president had yet to fill the position permanently.
Two of Utah's U.S. District Court judges have announced plans to retire next year and no new judges have been nominated in their stead.