CHEYENNE -- The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed attorney and Wyoming first lady Nancy Freudenthal as the first female federal judge in Wyoming history.

Freudenthal's nomination to the U.S. District Court of Wyoming passed the Senate 96-1.

The confirmation of Freudenthal, the wife of Gov. Dave Freudenthal, gives a Democratic tilt to the three-member U.S. District Court of Wyoming, which hears cases from all of Wyoming as well as the parts of Yellowstone National Park in Montana and Idaho. The court now has two Democratic-appointed judges, and one Republican-appointed judge.

She succeeds Judge Clarence Brimmer, who's on senior status and continues to hear cases. Brimmer was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford.

Nancy Freudenthal won’t be sworn in until this summer, said Margaret Bodkins, chief deputy of the U.S. District Court of Wyoming, as she needs time to wrap up her law practice and tie up loose ends.

Freudenthal is a partner at Davis & Cannon LLP in Cheyenne.

Nancy Freudenthal wasn’t available for comment Wednesday. Leigh Anne Manlove, Dave Freudenthal’s press secretary, said she was following Department of Justice guidelines to not make any public statements until the nomination process is finalized.

Dave Freudenthal also declined to comment. He had submitted his wife's name to the Obama administration last year, along with the names of two other candidates for the judgeship.

"Obviously, he’s very proud of her,” Manlove said.

The lone dissenting vote was cast by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. During Freudenthal's Senate confirmation hearing in January, Coburn was the only senator to press her: He asked why she abandoned a 2003 promise to not represent clients before boards and commission whose members were appointed by her husband.

Freudenthal answered that she was advised by a law professor that it wouldn't be an ethical conflict. She also said while very little of her work involved state panels, it wouldn't be in her clients’ best interests to limit her ability to represent them.

Coburn responded that her answer was "very acceptable."

Both of Wyoming's U.S. senators, Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, voted for Freudenthal; they have praised Freudenthal and have supported her nomination since it was announced by the White House last December.

Contact capital bureau reporter Jeremy Pelzer at (307) 632-1244 or jeremy.pelzer@trib.com.

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