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Peter Welte / File Photo

Welte takes questions from Senate Judiciary Committee

Former Grand Forks County State’s Attorney and federal judgeship nominee Peter Welte testified Wednesday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Welte, who was nominated for the post last month by President Donald Trump, was introduced to the committee by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Welte thanked Trump for the nomination, as well as Hoeven, former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, among others.

“To serve this country in this role would be a humbling privilege, and I would be proud to do so if confirmed,” Welte told the committee at the beginning of his hearing.

The Senate Judiciary committee, which is headed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., questioned Welte, along with four other nominees for federal judgeships throughout the country.

Welte is “an excellent choice” to serve as North Dakota’s U.S. District Court Judge, Hoeven said, pointing to Welte’s 13 years as Grand Forks County State’s Attorney and his additional years of private practice with Vogel Law Firm in Grand Forks.

Hoeven said Welte will be a “conservative” judge who ensures he is enforcing the law rather than legislating from the bench.

“I always look for a judge that has good temperament, a strong knowledge of the law and will make sure that they enforce the law as written, and Peter is all of those things,” Hoeven said.

During the hearing, Graham asked Welte about his years as a prosecutor and how that could affect his role as a federal judge.

Welte responded by speaking about his experience as a state’s attorney in Steele County, one of the smallest counties in the state, and in Grand Forks County, one of the largest. Additionally, he said his private work also could be beneficial as a federal district judge.

“I think that breadth of experience would serve us well in North Dakota,” he said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee may return a vote on the nominees by the end of the month, Hoeven said. The nominations would then go to the full Senate for a vote, potentially in March.

Hoeven said based on the hearing Wednesday, he believes senators on both sides of the aisle will be supportive of Welte.

Welte would replace U.S. Judge Ralph Erickson, who was appointed to serve on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018.