Republican senators confirmed one Trump appeals court pick Tuesday and surmounted a Democratic filibuster on a second, withstanding a renewed assault on the president’s judicial nominees by his political opponents.
Democrats cast the confirmation vote on Allison Jones Rushing, nominated to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Chad Readler, nominated to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, as referendums on controversial Trump administration stances.
They warned Republicans would be held responsible for future rulings the judges might make.
Republicans brushed aside those challenges and maintained near-unity in backing both picks. Ms. Rushing was confirmed on a 53-44 party-line vote. Mr. Readler overcame a filibuster also on a party-line vote, 53-45.
If confirmed, Mr. Readler would be the 33rd federal appeals court judge appointed by President Trump since he took office.
“Court stacking is proceeding apace,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who said Mr. Trump has now appointed 1 out of every 10 judges on the federal bench.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Mr. Reader’s vote is a test of how Republicans feel about Obamacare’s mandate that health insurers cover pre-existing conditions. He said Mr. Readler was the lead lawyer at the Justice Department in a case over whether Obamacare is still constitutional now that its individual mandate has been zeroed out.
“A day after Mr. Readler filed this awful brief, hurting average Americans, hurting tens of millions of average Americans, he was nominated for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. Coincidence?” Mr. Schumer said.
The argument swayed Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, who said she will vote against Mr. Readler because of his work on the Affordable Care Act case.
“I strongly objected to DOJ’s position to not defend the law, and it is telling that this position also concerned some other career attorneys in the department. In fact, three career attorneys withdrew from the case rather than support this position, and one of those attorneys eventually resigned,” Ms. Collins said.
Most Republicans weren’t phased, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell touting Mr. Readler’s well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association.
Democrats have made derailing the president’s court nominees a chief priority in the new Congress.
A future target is Kenneth Lee, nominated for the 9th Circuit and pending before the Judiciary Committee.
He’s under fire for writing in one article that white liberals are victimizing African-Americans. In another he said Cornell University had “justly garnered a notorious reputation for championing racial group-think and multicultural dogma,” in reference to African-American studies courses, a dorm for black students and a minority yearbook.
California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris, who say they deserved more consultation on a nominee to the 9th Circuit, seized on the writings.
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