Mark Bennett, the former Hawaii attorney general, was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Tuesday, making him the first appointee of President Donald Trump to be seated on the nation’s largest federal appellate court.
Bennett, who served as the state’s attorney general from 2003 to 2010, practiced complex civil and appellate litigation at Honolulu law firm Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher after leaving office. He fills the seat vacated when Ninth Circuit Judge Richard Clifton, who sits in Honolulu, took senior status at the end of 2016.
Bennett, who was nominated to the Ninth Circuit by Trump in February, saw his nomination breeze through the closely divided U.S. Senate thanks to his relative old age for an appellate nominee—he’s 65 years old—and the support he had from Hawaii’s two Democratic senators, Brian Schatz and Mazie K. Hirono.
Schatz said in a statement Tuesday that he was pleased that Bennett received “a decisive bipartisan vote.”
“This is the way the process is supposed to work,” Schatz said. “I’ve known Mark for many years, going back to when I served in the Hawai‘i state Legislature and he served as the state attorney general. Even though we were on different sides of the aisle, Mark was never difficult to work with, because he never had a partisan agenda. Instead, he approached every issue by focusing on the substance and how we could make things better for Hawai‘i.”
Hirono, in her own statement, called Bennett “one of the best qualified lawyers in the state of Hawai‘i.”
Said Hirono: “I have every confidence that Mark will put his skills and experience to good use on the bench as a fair and impartial judge, beholden to nothing but the law and the Constitution.”