TN Senate majority leader vetted for appointment as federal judge

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is being vetted for potential appointment as a federal judge, reports the Times Free Press, citing two “Republican sources” at the state capitol who were contacted by the FBI as part of the customary background check that proceeds such by appointments. Besides that, two “law enforcement chiefs” who know Norris  have apparently been contacted by agents as well.

There’s previously been talk that Norris might be nominated by President Donald Trump for one of two current vacancies on the U.S. District Court bench in West Tennessee – those vacated by Judge Hardy Mays in 2015 and by Judge Daniel  Green earlier this year. They retired – or “took senior status,” as the judicial saying goes.

Norris has for months been saying he’s interested joining the field of candidates running for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination. But he’s made no announcement – and the TFP says he did not return phone calls asking about his vetting for a federal judgeship.

A partner at the Adams and Reese law firm in Memphis, Norris was first elected to the state Senate in 2000 and represents part of Shelby and all of Tipton counties.

There has been speculation in legal circles that Norris’ age — he’s 61 — could weigh against him, given that presidents often like to appoint younger attorneys.

But several Republicans noted younger attorneys don’t always stay put, pointing to former U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp, 54, an Obama appointee in the Middle District of Tennessee.

Sharp stepped down in April after only six years on the bench. A number of Nashville-area Democratic attorneys remain upset about his decision, which left the Middle District with two vacant federal judgeships.

Already-announced candidates in the GOP gubernatorial primary are state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet; Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, a former state economic development commissioner, and Franklin businessman Bill Lee.

Also weighing bids are U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville.

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