- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the first Texas-based federal judicial vacancy filled since Sen. Ted Cruz took office in January.

Cruz and fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn both supported Costa, who has held court in Galveston. The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court hears appeals from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Despite Tuesday’s vote, Texas still has 10 federal judicial vacancies. Advocacy groups blame that for a 12,000-plus-case backlog.

Federal court appointments are made by the White House but confirmed by the Senate. Advocacy groups have accused Cruz and Cornyn of playing politics to delay President Barack Obama’s nominees.

Phillip Martin of left-leaning Progress Texas cheered Costa’s confirmation but says the remaining vacancies must be filled.

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