President Obama has nominated Edward Smith, a judge on the Court of Common Pleas in Northampton County, and Gerald McHugh, a partner at Raynes McCarty, for seats on the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

If they are confirmed, Smith and McHugh would fill half the seats currently vacant on the Eastern District bench. Altogether, there are four empty seats — the seat now open for the longest time became vacant in the fall of 2011 and the most recent opened in May when former Chief Judge J. Curtis Joyner took senior status.

The announcement from the White House comes on the heels of three confirmations from the Senate for judges in the Eastern District. Luis Felipe Restrepo, Nitza Quinones Alejandro, and Jeffrey Schmehl had been nominated by President Barack Obama last November and all three were confirmed in June, three months after they had moved through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Smith has been a judge in Northampton County since 2002, according to the announcement, and before that he had been a captain in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps for 27 years. He was also a partner in the firm of DeRaymond & Smith in Easton, Pa. and was given a bronze star after his combat service in Iraq.

McHugh has focused on complex civil litigation in his practice. Before going to Raynes McCarty, he was a shareholder at Litvin, Blumberg, Matusow, and Young for 23 years.

“Jerry McHugh is an excellent lawyer who has worked tirelessly for justice for all Pennsylvanians throughout his legal career,” Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey said in a prepared statement. “Jerry McHugh is one of the preeminent lawyers in Pennsylvania. He also has a long and admirable record of civic and charitable work.

“Judge Edward Smith has an unparalleled record of service as a U.S. Navy JAG officer and a military trial judge.,” Casey said. “His service on the Northampton County Court of Common Please is universally respected I hope that the Senate will quickly take up and confirm the nominations of these two capable and outstanding candidates.”

Saranac Hale Spencer can be contacted at 215-557-2449 or Follow her on Twitter @SSpencerTLI.