A Scioto County native, Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Matthew McFarland was in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and according to one long time federal court observer, is well on his way to confirmation as a District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman, (R-OH,) first nominated McFarland in October 2017. The nomination seemed to have stalled for a healthy amount of time, but President Trump added McFarland’s name to a list of 13 judicial nominees in October of last year, according to previous Daily Times stories.
In introducing McFarland to the judiciary committee earlier this week, Portman noted McFarland would be the first federal judge to come out of the Appalachian part of Ohio in 100 years.
“About time,” Portman said.
According to Portman, McFarland began his public service as a Scioto County assistant prosecutor and later became a Special Counsel for the Ohio Attorney General. McFarland also served as a magistrate in the Probate/Juvenile Division of the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas.
“Since 2004, Matt has served as a judge on the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals,” Portman continued. “During that time, he also has sat as a visiting judge on the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals. Matt’s long history on the bench allows him to hit the ground running as a federal judge.”
Again, according to previous Daily Times stories, McFarland also serves as an adjunct professor at Shawnee State University and formerly taught constitutional law at Capital University. McFarland received his BA, cum laude, from Capital University and his law degree from Capital University Law School.
McFarland’s nomination initially came from a bipartisan Senate nominating committee including Portman and Sen. Sherrod Brown, (D-OH.)
Reached by phone Friday, McFarland’s office stated the U.S. Department of Justice requested all calls regarding the nomination be routed to them or Portman’s office.
Carl Tobias is a professor of law at the University of Richmond in Virginia. He offered his comments to the Daily Times after seeing the paper’s previous stories on McFarland’s nomination. Tobias said he has been observing and studying judicial nomination proceedings for some time and watched the initial confirmation hearings for McFarland.
“I think he did reasonably well,” Tobias said. “The Democrats on the committee asked him some pretty tough questions.” But Tobias added McFarland handled himself well.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Tobias said.
According to Tobias, some of the tough questions aimed at McFarland included queries about membership in the Federalist Society and his pro-life views on abortion. Tobias said being a member of the conservative Federalist Society is fairly standard for Republican politicians. Tobias also said McFarland stated he only talked about abortion during one or more of his runs for the bench in Ohio.
Voters first elected McFarland to the Court of Appeals in 2004 and reelected him in 2010 and 2016. McFarland also served on the Wheelersburg Local Board of Education.
Tobias expects the judiciary committee to move their approved nominees to the full Senate floor in the next few weeks. He predicted McFarland’s nomination will come to a vote of the full Senate sometime around Labor Day.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.