Judge Billy Ray (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

After waiting a year and four months, Georgia Court of Appeals Judge William “Billy” Ray II has at last been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

The Senate voted 54-41 to confirm Ray late Thursday. The vote fell almost totally on party lines. One Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, missed the vote. Four Democrats voted yes. All of the no votes were from Democrats.

Both Georgia’s Republican senators applauded Ray’s confirmation in a news release after the vote Thursday evening.

“Judge Billy Ray has an outstanding record of service to Georgia in our state Legislature and on the bench and a history of getting things done,” Sen. Johnny Isakson said. “Judge Ray created ‘Heidi’s Law’ in Georgia to tighten penalties in repeat DUI cases, and he created the drug court in Gwinnett County. I’m pleased the Senate confirmed Judge Ray and look forward to his continued service.”

Sen. David Perdue said in the same news release that Ray “has served our state well throughout his distinguished career on the bench and in the state legislature.” Perdue added, “I’m confident Judge Ray will continue to serve with integrity in this new role, just as he did during his combined 16 years on the Court of Appeals of Georgia and Superior Court in Gwinnett County. President Trump has selected an exceptional Georgian to fill this seat on the federal bench, and I congratulate Judge Ray on his confirmation.”

Both senators spoke in support of Ray at his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing back in September 2017.

Ray has served on the Court of Appeals of Georgia since 2012. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals, Ray served for 10 years as a Gwinnett Judicial Circuit Superior Court judge. Ray served for six years in the Georgia Legislature and was a partner in the Gwinnett County law firm of Andersen, Davidson & Tate. Ray received his B.B.A from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, magna cum laude, his M.B.A., also from Terry, and his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Ray’s bio on the Court of Appeals website says he was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1963, the son of a farmer, and raised in Peach and Crawford counties.