WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Judge Amul Thapar, one of the judges who was shortlisted by President Donald Trump for the current Supreme Court vacancy, is being vetted by the White House for a seat on a federal appeals court.

According to a report from Buzzfeed News, two lawyers familiar with the situation said that Thapar — currently a federal district court judge — is the frontrunner to be the nominee for one of two vacancies on the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The report said the FBI interviewed people close to Thapar last month as part of an official background check, which is typically the final step in the pre-nomination process. The lawyers, speaking under the terms of anonymity, said they were not aware of other candidates who were currently being vetted for the vacancy.

The White House isn’t expected to act on any lower court nominees until Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is confirmed. Regardless, the fact the FBI is conducting background checks on at least one potential nominee is a sign that the White House is preparing to move on other court vacancies quickly once the Supreme Court seat is filled.

There are 120 open seats on the federal courts, including the Supreme Court vacancy, making up about 13 percent of all authorized federal judgeships. The Sixth Circuit already has a majority of Republican-appointed judges.

Thapar made history when he joined the bench in 2008, becoming the first South Asian–American confirmed to a federal district or appeals court. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a longtime backer. McConnell introduced Thapar at hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2006, when Thapar was nominated to be the US attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and in 2007, when he was nominated for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

He was among the 21 names Trump said he would consider to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. Thapar was one of four judges whom Trump personally met with before choosing Gorsuch as the nominee. Thapar has a strong law enforcement background, having served not only as the US attorney in Kentucky but also as a federal prosecutor in Ohio and in the District of Columbia.

Thapar presided over the high-profile criminal case against an elderly Catholic nun convicted of breaking into a military facility used to store uranium as part of a protest. In 2014, he sentenced the then-84-year-old nun — who had asked the judge not to give her leniency because of her age — to 35 months in prison, which was less than what prosecutors recommended.