WASHINGTON, DC (WLNE) - The U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Mary McElroy Wednesday to be the next U.S. District Court Judge for Rhode Island.

McElroy will fill the judicial vacancy that has sat empty since Judge Mary Lisi assumed senior status in 2015.

This was McElroy’s third nomination whose previous nominations expired before she was confirmed.

She was also nominated by President Obama in 2015 but it stalled in partisan politics.

Both Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse have strongly backed her nomination.

“It is great news that Rhode Islanders will now have a fully staffed court so cases can be heard more efficiently and justice isn’t delayed,” Sen. Reed said in a statement. “Mary is a proven, widely respected leader in Rhode Island’s legal community.  She will serve the people of Rhode Island on the federal bench with honor, integrity, and fairness.”

“I am thrilled that Mary McElroy is at long last officially set to become a U.S. District Judge for Rhode Island,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Mary has impeccable credentials and a long commitment to public service.  I’m confident she will serve the people of Rhode Island with distinction on the bench, and pleased at the happiness of her new colleagues at her arrival.”

McElroy is a Warwick native who now resides in East Greenwich.

She is the first woman in Rhode Island's history to serve as chief public defender. 

McElroy has over twenty years of legal experience at the state and federal level.

WLNE-TV / ABC6 2019