SAN FRANCISCO — President Donald Trump on Thursday nominated Ryan Nelson, the general counsel of a nutritional supplement and home goods company in Idaho, to fill one of several vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Nelson has served as general counsel of Idaho Falls-based Melaleuca Inc. since 2009, according to a White House press release. Prior to joining the company, he was deputy general counsel to the White House Office of Management and Budget, and a deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department. He also practiced at the Washington offices of Sidley Austin, the release said.
Nelson was previously nominated by the Trump administration for solicitor at the Department of Interior, but was never confirmed.
The announcement comes after Ninth Circuit Judge Randy Smith, a fellow Idahoan, announced his intention to take senior status this August. Smith, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote in a letter to Trump that he wished to provide “another opportunity for an Idaho lawyer to serve here.”
The Ninth Circuit covers the largest swath of the United States of any of the federal appeals courts, and tradition has dictated that certain slots are held open for judges from each state. Aside from the future vacancy being created by Smith’s departure, the court has seven openings, according to its website.
Nelson is the president’s third nominee to the court, after Ryan Bounds and Mark Bennett. Bounds is currently the Oregon assistant U.S. attorney, while Bennett is a former Hawaii state attorney general.
Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch, both Republicans, welcomed Nelson’s nomination in a joint press release.
“Throughout his diverse legal career, Ryan developed the necessary tools to serve the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as a sound and principled jurist,” Risch said in the statement. “A native Idahoan, Ryan will bring a valuable perspective to the court—upholding our way of life, respecting the rule of law, and rejecting judicial activism.”