CHEYENNE - Gov. Dave Freudenthal has listed his wife among three names he submitted to the White House for consideration for an open federal judgeship in Wyoming.
Freudenthal said Thursday that he pondered the matter of including his wife's name on the list he sent to the White House in March.
"I thought about that long and hard, and the question really came down to (was) should she be penalized for having married me," the governor said. "And the conclusion I came down to is that all three of them are qualified, and fortunately, it's up to the president and not me."
The other names the governor submitted for consideration are District Judge Norman E. Young of Lander and Rock Springs lawyer Ford T. Bussart. Attempts to reach the two men after business hours on Thursday were unsuccessful.
Freudenthal appointed Young to the state judgeship. Bussart has been active in litigation over school finance in the state.
There's an opening at the U.S. District Court in Cheyenne for the seat of Judge Clarence Brimmer, who still hears cases even though he's on senior status. Freudenthal said the White House had asked for a list of three names for judicial appointments.
Former President George W. Bush had nominated Rock Springs lawyer Richard Honaker for the spot, but he never received a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Honaker had drawn criticism from abortion-rights groups because of his work on the issue while serving in the Wyoming Legislature.
Cara Eastwood, spokeswoman for Freudenthal, said the White House approached Freudenthal for a list of names because all three members of the state's congressional delegation are Republicans. Ultimately, it will be up to President Barack Obama to choose a nominee, who will then be considered by the U.S. Senate.
Elly Pickett, spokeswoman for Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said the senator wrote to the White House this month supporting the governor's list. She said the senator didn't express a preference for any of the three candidates.
Gov. Freudenthal said it's not clear to him whether the Wyoming federal judgeship actually will end up being filled.
"There's always this discussion out there, whether or not Wyoming needs three federal judges," the governor said.
Nancy Freudenthal said she's honored that her husband put her on the list.
"It's not easy," Nancy Freudenthal said. "I think just being married to each other ends up being a factor that you have to consider and weigh in terms of what additional controversy and criticism that would take.
"I know he thought about it long and hard and decided that I still merited to be included in the list of three names," she said. "The other two names that were advanced are very capable and highly regarded attorneys, and of course one district court judge, and I really feel honored just being considered in their group."
Nancy Freudenthal is a partner in the law firm of Davis and Cannon, which has offices in Cheyenne, Sheridan and Gillette. She started with the firm in 1995 after serving a term on the State Board of Equalization, which hears tax disputes.
Nancy Freudenthal received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wyoming.
Gov. Freudenthal, himself a former U.S. Attorney, threw his support behind Obama last spring, when the Democratic nomination was still very much up for grabs. As a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention last summer, the governor also supported Obama.
Nancy Freudenthal said she doesn't believe that her husband's support for Obama as a candidate will give her a leg up over the other two attorneys on the list.
She noted that Obama has his own background in the law. "I believe the president will look to the best qualified, well-rounded attorney with the right judicial demeanor to serve in this capacity," she said.
Also this year, Gov. Freudenthal has nominated Christopher A. "Kip" Crofts to serve as U.S. Attorney for Wyoming. Crofts currently serves as counsel to the governor on his staff and formerly served for the U.S. Attorney's Office and as director of the state's Division of Criminal Investigation.
Gov. Freudenthal also nominated Kurt Dobbs, another former director of DCI, to serve as U.S. Marshal for Wyoming.