Donald Trump judicial appointment controversies

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President Donald Trump entered office with a significant number of judicial vacancies,[1] including a Supreme Court vacancy due to the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016. President Trump had made approximately 50 judicial nominations by September 15, 2017, which was a significantly higher number of judicial nominations than any other recent president had made by that point in his presidency.[2]

As of September 24, 2019, the American Bar Association (ABA) had rated 196 of President Trump's nominees. Of these nominees, 132 were rated "well-qualified," 56 were rated "qualified," and eight were rated "not qualified."[3] Four of the eight individuals rated as "not qualified" have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.[4] As of November 2017, the percentage of President Trump's judicial nominees rated "not qualified" by a majority of the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary was higher than in the previous four presidential administrations.[5] Thus far in the 116th United States Congress, two of President Trump's judicial nominees have received a "not qualified" rating from the ABA.[6]

Contents

Supreme Court[edit]

Successfully appointed nominees[edit]

Supreme Court of the United States

  • Neil Gorsuch (of Colorado): President Trump announced the nomination of Judge Gorsuch on January 31, 2017. The nomination was formally transmitted to the Senate on February 1, 2017.[7] Judge Gorsuch's confirmation hearings started on March 20, 2017, and lasted four days.[8][9] On April 3, the Judiciary Committee approved Judge Gorsuch by a vote of 11–9, a party-line vote.[10][11] During the last day of committee hearings, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced from the Senate floor that he would filibuster the nomination.[12] Democratic opposition focused primarily on the complaint that the vacancy on the court was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia during President Barack Obama's administration should have been filled by President Obama's nominee for the vacancy, Judge Merrick Garland.[13][14] In response, Republicans hearkened back to November 2013 when Democrats invoked the nuclear option to fill three vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[15] To counter the filibuster, Republicans invoked the nuclear option, ending debate with a simple majority vote and extending the rule that a simple majority could invoke cloture on all presidential nominations, including Supreme Court nominations.[16] The Senate confirmed Judge Gorsuch on April 7, 2017, by a vote of 54–45, with all Senate Republicans present voting to confirm along with three Democratic Senators from states that voted heavily for President Trump: Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).[17]
  • Brett Kavanaugh (of Maryland): President Trump announced the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh in July 2018. The nomination was formally transmitted to the Senate on July 10, 2018. The Senate confirmed Judge Kavanaugh on October 6, 2018, by a vote of 50–48. Except for Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), all Senate Republicans voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh and except for Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), all Senate Democrats opposed him. Murkowski announced her opposition to Judge Kavanaugh, but instead of voting no, she voted present in order to pair her vote with Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), who was attending his daughter's wedding.[18]

Appellate nominees[edit]

Failed nominees[edit]

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit[edit]

  • Ryan Bounds (of Oregon): On September 7, 2017, President Trump nominated Bounds, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, to the seat vacated by Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, who assumed senior status on December 31, 2016. A short time later, the state's two Democratic U.S. Senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, announced that they would blue slip the nomination. They complained that the Trump administration had bypassed a state bipartisan vetting commission and had not consulted them about the nomination. However, the White House Counsel's office produced records stating that they had contacted the state's U.S. Senators on multiple occasions, but had gotten little response from them.[19] On January 3, 2018, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[20] On January 5, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his intent to renominate Bounds to a federal judgeship.[21] On January 8, 2018, his renomination was sent to the Senate.[22] In February 2018, the bipartisan committee cited by the two Senators found Bounds to be qualified.[23] However, the Senators subsequently questioned Bounds' fitness on the basis of some of his writings when he was a student at Stanford University in the 1990s.[24] On May 9, 2018, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[25] On June 7, 2018, his nomination was reported out of committee by an 11–10 party-line vote.[26] On July 18, 2018, the Senate voted 50–49 to invoke cloture on his nomination.[27] On July 19, 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Bounds' nomination would be withdrawn after Senator Tim Scott announced he would not support the nomination, meaning there would not be enough votes to confirm Bounds.[28][29] On July 24, 2018, his nomination was officially withdrawn.[30] Trump later nominated Danielle J. Hunsaker in Bounds’s place.
  • Patrick J. Bumatay (of California): On October 10, 2018, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Bumatay to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[31] Both U.S. Senators from California, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, announced their opposition to his nomination.[32] On November 13, 2018, his nomination was sent to the Senate. President Trump nominated Bumatay to the seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated by Judge Alex Kozinski, who retired on December 18, 2017.[33] If confirmed, Bumatay would have been the first Filipino American to serve as an Article III federal appellate judge. Bumatay is gay and was the second LGBT person nominated by Donald Trump to be nominated to a federal judicial position.[34] The decision to move forward with his nomination to the appeals court angered California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is also the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein claims she was not consulted about his nomination, he was never mentioned as a potential nominee and she claimed he had no judicial experience, therefore, she was planning to withhold her blue slip.[35][36] On January 3, 2019, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate. Trump later nominated Daniel Aaron Bress in Bumatay's place, who was subsequently confirmed, while Bumatay was instead nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Successfully appointed nominees[edit]

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit[edit]

  • Allison Jones Rushing (of North Carolina): On August 27, 2018, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Rushing to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.[31][37] Her official nomination was received on the same day by the United States Senate.[38] She was nominated to the seat to be vacated by Allyson Kay Duncan, who had previously announced her decision to take senior status upon the confirmation of her successor. On October 17, 2018, a hearing on her nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[39] On January 3, 2019, her nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate. On January 23, 2019, President Trump announced his intent to renominate Rushing for a federal judgeship.[40] Her nomination was sent to the Senate later that day.[41] On February 7, 2019, her nomination was reported out of committee by a 12–10 vote.[42] During Rushing's confirmation proceedings, she was questioned about her ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian group that she had interned for as a law student. ADF has been criticized for opposing LGBT rights. Rushing's defenders pointed out that she had only briefly interned for the group back in 2009 and had little contact with it since. Rushing was asked if she would recuse herself from ADF-related cases if confirmed. She replied: "I would determine the appropriate action with the input of the parties, consultation of these rules and ethical canons, and consultation with my colleagues." Asked about ADF being labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Rushing said: "Hate is wrong, and it should have no place in our society. In my experience with ADF, I have not witnessed anyone expressing or advocating hate."[43] On March 5, 2019, the Senate voted to confirm Rushing by a 53–44 vote.[44]

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit[edit]

  • Kyle Duncan (of Louisiana): On September 28, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Duncan to an undetermined seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.[45] On October 2, 2017, he was officially nominated to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, to the seat vacated by Judge W. Eugene Davis, who took senior status on December 31, 2016.[46] Duncan's judicial record was attacked by Democrats as being too conservative.[47][48] Republicans defended him, pointing out his academic and legal achievements and pointing out that he was rated "Well Qualified" by the American Bar Association.[citation needed] Republican Senator John Kennedy withheld his blue slip, stating that Duncan had not lived in Louisiana for years and calling into question his support for Duncan's nomination.[49] On November 29, 2017, a hearing was held on his nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[46] On January 3, 2018, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[20] Kennedy was impressed by Duncan's testimony and announced his support the following day.[citation needed] On January 5, 2018 President Donald Trump announced his intent to renominate Duncan to a federal judgeship.[21] On January 8, 2018, his renomination was sent to the Senate.[22] On January 18, 2018, his nomination was reported out of committee by a party-line 11–10 vote.[50] On April 24, 2018, his nomination was confirmed by a vote of 50–47.[51]

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit[edit]

  • John K. Bush (of Kentucky): On May 8, 2017, President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate prominent Louisville lawyer Bush to the seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated by Judge Danny Julian Boggs who took senior status on February 28, 2017.[52] On a questionnaire submitted to the committee, Bush acknowledged that between 2007 and 2016, he had pseudonymously authored approximately 400 blog posts on Elephants in the Bluegrass, a blog founded by his wife, Bridget.[53] His blog posts espoused conservative political views and expressed opposition to gay marriage, the Affordable Care Act, public financing of political campaigns, and the idea of trying terrorists in civilian courts.[54][55] Bush also compared abortion to slavery, calling the topics "the two greatest tragedies in our country."[55] When questioned about his blogging during his judicial nomination process, Bush said that "my personal views are irrelevant to the position for which I have been nominated" and that "Blogging is a political activity. It is not appropriate to bring politics to the bench."[56] On July 20, 2017, the United States Senate voted 51–47 to confirm him,[57] both votes breaking along party lines.
  • Chad Readler (of Ohio): On June 7, 2018, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Readler to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.[31] On June 18, 2018, his nomination was sent to the Senate. President Trump nominated Readler to the seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit being vacated by Judge Deborah L. Cook, who will assume senior status on an undetermined date.[58] In June 2018, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said he did not plan to return a blue slip for Readler's nomination, while U.S. Senator Rob Portman said he planned to support Readler's nomination.[59] On October 10, 2018, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[60] During his confirmation proceedings, Democrats criticized Readler for having supported a Republican lawsuit aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.[61][62] On January 3, 2019, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate. He was renominated on January 23, 2019.[63] On February 7, 2019, his nomination was reported out of committee by a 12–10 vote.[42] On March 6, 2019, his nomination was confirmed by a vote of 52–47.[64]

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit[edit]

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit[edit]

  • L. Steven Grasz (of Nebraska): On August 3, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Grasz to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, to the seat vacated by Judge William J. Riley, who assumed senior status on June 30, 2017.[68] In October 2017, the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, a nonpartisan entity which rates judicial nominees, unanimously voted to give Grasz a "not qualified" rating for the position.[72] Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) criticized the ABA for their decision, defending Grasz and saying the ABA's rating was based on politics.[73] On December 7, 2017, his nomination was reported out of committee by an 11–9 vote.[74] On December 12, 2017, the full United States Senate voted 50–48 in favor of confirmation; the vote was along party lines with Senators John McCain and Thad Cochran abstaining from the vote.[75]
  • David Stras (of Minnesota): On May 8, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Stras, an Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit vacated by Judge Diana E. Murphy who took senior status on November 29, 2016.[76] The state's then-junior U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar, turned in her blue slip, but on September 5, 2017, Minnesota's then-senior U.S. Senator, Al Franken, announced that he would not return his blue slip for Stras. Franken stated that while he had nothing personally against Stras, the White House had not adequately consulted him about the nomination and added that he wanted to prevent the White House from achieving a "right wing" takeover of the Federal Judiciary.[77] On November 16, Franken was accused of making unwanted sexual advances to a talk show hostess,[78] and that was followed by other similar accusations from other women. On November 29, 2017, a hearing was held on Stras's nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[46] On December 7, Franken announced that he would resign from the Senate effective January 2, 2018. He was replaced by Democrat Tina Smith. On January 3, 2018, Stras's nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[20] On January 5, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his intent to renominate Stras to a federal judgeship.[21] On January 8, 2018, his renomination was sent to the Senate.[22] On January 18, 2018, his nomination was reported out of committee by a 13–8 vote, with Amy Klobuchar, voting in support. On January 30, 2018, his nomination was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 56–42.[79]
  • Jonathan A. Kobes (of South Dakota): On June 11, 2018, Kobes, a former top aide to U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, was nominated to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He quickly drew opposition from liberal interest groups and Democrats, who claimed that some of his prior clients showed ideological bias and that he didn't have enough courtroom experience. Their cause was aided when the American Bar Association rated Kobes as "Unqualified." Republicans denounced the rating, claiming that the lead attorney evaluating nominees for the 8th Circuit was politically motivated and biased. On December 11, 2018, the Senate voted 51-50 to confirm Kobes, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit[edit]

Stalled nominees[edit]

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit[edit]

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit[edit]

  • Halil Suleyman Ozerden (of Mississippi): On June 11, 2019, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Ozerden to serve as a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.[98] On June 24, 2019, his nomination was sent to the Senate. His nomination ran into opposition from some conservative groups and he faced skeptical questions from several Republican Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Many of the questions regard his views on religious liberty and some others questioned how many of his rulings had been reversed. On September 12, 2019, Senator Ted Cruz announced his opposition to the nomination.[99] The Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on recommending Ozerden on September 26, 2019, but the vote was postponed after Senator Josh Hawley joined Ted Cruz in his opposition to Ozerden's elevation to the Circuit Court.[100]

District court nominees[edit]

Failed nominees[edit]

United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama[edit]

United States District Court for the District of Alaska[edit]

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas[edit]

  • Jeff Mateer: On September 7, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Mateer to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, to the seat vacated by Judge Richard A. Schell, who assumed senior status on March 10, 2015.[106] Mateer was recommended to the White House by Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.[107] After Mateer's remarks about transgender kids being part of "Satan's plan" and his support for conversion therapy were publicized in late September 2017, John Cornyn, a Republican Senator from Texas and Senate Majority Whip, expressed skepticism about Mateer's suitability to sit on the federal bench.[108] Cornyn and members of a committee that screens Texas judicial candidates said that Mateer had not disclosed the statements.[107] Senator Cruz said that he still supported Mateer's nomination.[109] On December 14, 2017, Mateer withdrew himself from consideration.[102] On January 3, 2018, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[20] Trump later nominated Sean D. Jordan in Mateer's place and Jordan was confirmed on July 30, 2019.

United States District Court for the District of Columbia[edit]

United States District Court for the Northern District of New York[edit]

  • Thomas Marcelle: On October 10, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Marcelle to serve as a Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. Marcelle was nominated to the seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York vacated by Judge Gary L. Sharpe, who took senior status on January 1, 2016. On November 13, 2018, his nomination was sent to the U.S. Senate. On January 3, 2019, Marcelle's nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate. On January 23, 2019, President Trump announced that he had renominated Marcelle. On August 29, 2019, Marcelle had withdrawn his name from consideration after his nomination was blocked by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, allegedly over his opposition to abortion.[118] The White House officially withdrew his nomination on September 19, 2019.[119]

United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina[edit]

  • Thomas Alvin Farr: On July 13, 2017, President Trump nominated Farr to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, to the seat vacated by Judge Malcolm Jones Howard, who took senior status on December 31, 2005.[120] On September 20, 2017, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[121] On October 19, 2017, his nomination was reported out of committee by a roll call vote of 11–9.[122] On January 3, 2018, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[20] On January 5, 2018 President Donald Trump announced his intent to renominate Farr to a federal judgeship.[123] On January 8, 2018, his renomination was sent to the Senate.[124] On January 18, 2018, his nomination was reported out of committee by an 11–10 vote.[125] On November 28, 2018, the United States Senate voted 51–50 in favor of cloture, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.[126] The following day, Republican Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Tim Scott of South Carolina affirmed their opposition to his nomination, with all 49 Democratic Senators opposed as well, all but assuring that his nomination will be rejected.[127] Farr's nomination was opposed by the Congressional Black Caucus due to Farr's role as a lawyer defending North Carolina voting restrictions which were struck down by a court as racially biased. During his Senate confirmation hearing, Farr said that he disagreed with the 4th Circuit panel's ruling and that "at the time our clients enacted those laws, I do not believe that they thought that were purposefully discriminating against African Americans." He said that if he is confirmed to the federal judiciary, he would follow the 4th Circuit's ruling.[128][129] In 2019, the White House did not renominate Farr. Trump later nominated Richard E. Myers II in Farr's place.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin[edit]

  • Gordon P. Giampietro: On December 20, 2017, President Trump nominated Giampietro to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, to the seat vacated by Judge Rudolph T. Randa, who assumed senior status on February 5, 2016. On February 15, 2018, the web site Buzzfeed reported that Giampietro had made negative remarks about "calls for diversity", birth control, and gay marriage in blog comments and radio interviews. A spokesman for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin called the statements "extremely troubling" and complained that they had not been provided to the Wisconsin Federal Nominating Commission, a bipartisan commission which vets federal judicial nominees.[130] In response, Giampietro released his application to the Wisconsin federal nominating commission, which shows what questions he was asked by the state's federal nominating commission and the answers that he provided. Giampietro's supporters, including the Catholic League, have said they believe criticisms of his past comments have to do with his Catholic faith.[131] It is possible that Baldwin would have withheld her blue slip.[132] In 2019, the White House did not renominate him.

Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Oklahoma[edit]

  • John M. O'Connor: On April 10, 2018, President Trump nominated O'Connor to serve as a United States District Judge for the United States District Courts of Northern, Eastern, and Western districts of Oklahoma. He was nominated to the seat vacated by Judge James H. Payne, who assumed senior status on August 1, 2017.[133] On July 11, 2018, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[80] During his hearings Senator Kamala Harris said the Judiciary Committee should not have moved forward with O'Connor's nomination before the ABA released its rating.[134] On August 21, 2018, the American Bar Association rated O'Connor "not qualified."[135] Two complaints about O'Connor had been filed with the Oklahoma Bar Association, although neither complaint resulted in public discipline and he remains an attorney in good standing.[136] He was not renominated in 2019, and withdrew his name for consideration for re-nomination on April 12, 2019.

United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan[edit]

  • Michael S. Bogren: On March 8, 2019, President Donald Trump agreed to nominate Borgen as a Federal Trial Judge at the urging of U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. However, his nomination drew criticism from Republicans and conservatives. A particular point of contention was when Borgan represented the city of East Lansing, which barred two married Christian farmers from selling his goods at the local farmers' market because after they refused to a host a same-sex marriage on their farm citing religious beliefs. While making his case, Borgan equated the farmers to the Ku Klux Klan and radical Muslims who oppose letting women drive.[137] While Borgan claimed he was merely defending his client, his critics said his remarks went far beyond the bounds of fair comment and showed anti-Christian bias, thus proving that he did not have the temperament to judge cases impartially. On June 11, 2019, Borgan withdrew his nomination. The White House formally sent a notice of the withdrawal of Bogren's nomination to the Senate on June 26, 2019.

Successfully appointed nominees[edit]

United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee[edit]

  • Mark Norris: On July 13, 2017, President Trump nominated Norris to the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, to the seat vacated by Judge J. Daniel Breen, who took senior status on March 18, 2017.[138] Prior to his appointment, Norris was publicly considering a candidacy for governor of Tennessee in 2018.[139][140] Trump's nomination of Norris was supported by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee,[141] but criticized by former U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, who described Norris as one of a number of "the least qualified and most bizarre" of Trump's judicial appointments. In a New York Times op-ed, Scheindlin criticized Norris for suggesting that "being Muslim is synonymous with being a terrorist" and for leading efforts to bar local governments from removing public monuments to the Confederacy.[142] On November 1, 2017, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[143] During the hearing, Norris said in response to a question from Senator Amy Klobuchar that he viewed the case Obergefell v. Hodges (determining that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry) as settled law.[144] On December 7, 2017 his nomination was reported out of committee by an 11–9 vote.[145] On January 3, 2018, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[20] On January 5, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his intent to renominate Norris to a federal judgeship.[123] On January 8, 2018, his renomination was sent to the Senate.[124] On January 18, 2018, his nomination was reported out of committee by an 11–10 vote.[125] On October 11, 2018 his nomination was confirmed by the full Senate by a 51–44 vote.[146]

United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma[edit]

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas[edit]

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana[edit]

United States District Court for the District of Utah[edit]

  • Howard C. Nielson Jr.: On September 28, 2017, President Trump nominated Nielson to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah, to the seat vacated by Judge Ted Stewart, who took senior status on September 1, 2014. A hearing on his nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee was held on January 10, 2018.[163] On February 8, the Judiciary Committee voted for Nielson by a party-line vote of 11–10.[164] Democrats on the committee opposed Nielson over his role in defending California's Proposition 8 and his role in reviewing two torture memos in 2004 and 2006 when he was serving as a deputy assistant general at the Office of Legal Counsel for the Justice Department.[165] Nielson claimed that he was a junior counsel in the Proposition 8 controversy and the lead counsel made decisions on legal tactics.[citation needed] On March 6, 2018, Senator Tammy Duckworth put a hold on his nomination.[166] On January 3, 2019, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate. On January 23, 2019, President Trump announced his intent to renominate Nielson for a federal judgeship.[40] His nomination was sent to the Senate later that day.[41] On February 7, 2019, his nomination was reported out of committee by a 12–10 vote.[42] On May 22, 2019, his nomination was confirmed by a vote of 51-47.[167]

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri[edit]

  • Stephen R. Clark Sr.: On April 10, 2018, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Clark to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. On April 12, 2018, his nomination was sent to the Senate. He was nominated to the seat vacated by Judge Carol E. Jackson, who retired on August 31, 2017. On July 11, 2018, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[80] On September 13, 2018, his nomination was reported out of committee by an 11–10 vote.[81] Democrats have opposed his nomination due to disagreements with Clark's positions on abortion and LGBT rights.[168] Clark stated that his statements on sensitive issues were his personal opinions and that as a judge he would follow the law and Supreme Court precedent. Republicans also pointed out that he was supported by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democratic from Clarke's home state.[citation needed] On January 3, 2019, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate. On January 23, 2019 President Trump announced his intent to renominate Clark for a federal judgeship.[40] His nomination was sent to the Senate later that day.[41] On February 7, 2019, his nomination was reported out of committee by a 12–10 vote.[42] On May 22, 2019, his nomination was confirmed by a vote of 53–45.[169]

United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas[edit]

Stalled nominees[edit]

United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky[edit]

  • Justin R. Walker: On June 19, 2019, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Walker to serve as a United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. On June 24, 2019, his nomination was sent to the Senate. The American Bar Association (ABA) rated Walker "not qualified" because he had less than 12 years' experience practicing law. In its rating, the ABA said "it has no questions about Walker's temperament or integrity and that it believes he has great potential to serve as a federal judge."[178] On July 31, 2019, a hearing on his nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Walker was questioned about his legal experience, which he said he believed demonstrated his qualifications for the federal judiciary.[179]

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri[edit]

  • Sarah Pitlyk: On August 14, 2019, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Pitlyk to serve as a United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. On September 9, 2019, her nomination was sent to the Senate. Her nomination immediately drew criticism from Democrats and progressive groups, who claimed that her history of anti-abortion advocacy made her temperamentally unfit to be a Federal Judge and that she had ideological bias. Their cause was aided on September 24, 2019, when the American Bar Association rated her as "Not Qualified" in its judicial rating, claiming she has insufficient courtroom experience.[180] On September 25, 2019 a hearing on her nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing was very contentious, with Democrats asking several skeptical questions,[181] while Republicans accusing the American Bar Association of ideological bias in its negative rating of Pitlyk.[182]

Article I court nominees[edit]

Failed nominees[edit]

United States Court of Federal Claims[edit]

  • Damien Schiff: on May 8, 2017, President Trump nominated Schiff, an attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, to serve as a United States Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims, to the seat vacated by Judge George W. Miller, who retired in 2014.[183] Schiff became controversial because of his lack of experience with the specific court. But he became the subject of negative publicity when it was revealed that he described U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy as a "judicial prostitute" in a blog posting he wrote in 2007.[184] The Senate Judiciary Committee voted for him on an 11 to 9 party line vote. However, some Republican Senators implied that they would oppose him on the floor. On January 3, 2018, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[20] The White House did not renominate Schiff in 2018.[185] Trump later nominated Richard Hertling in Schiff's place, and Hertling was confirmed on June 10, 2019.
  • Stephen S. Schwartz: on June 7, 2017, President Trump nominated Washington, D.C., lawyer Schwartz to serve as a United States Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims, to the seat vacated by Judge Lynn J. Bush who took senior status on October 21, 2013. On July 25, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on his nomination.[186] Democrats criticized the nomination, claiming that Schwartz did not have enough courtroom experience to serve as a judge. His nomination was reported out of committee by a vote of 11–9 on September 14, 2017.[187] On January 3, 2018, his nomination was returned to the President under Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6 of the United States Senate.[188] On January 8, 2018, the White House renominated 21 of 26 federal judicial nominees who had been returned by the U.S. Senate. Schwartz was not among the 21 individuals who were renominated.[185] Trump later nominated David A. Tapp in Schwartz's place. On October 2, 2019, Trump announced his intent to nominate Schwartz to another vacancy on that court.
  • Maureen Ohlhausen: On January 23, 2018, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Federal Trade Commissioner Ohlhausen to the United States Court of Federal Claims.[189] On January 24, 2018, her nomination was sent to the United States Senate. She was nominated to the seat vacated by Judge Lawrence J. Block, who retired on January 8, 2016.[190] Her nomination immediately drew opposition from Democrats, who attacked her opposition to Net Neutrality and portrayed her as reflexively pro-corporation. On May 9, 2018, a hearing on her nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[25] On June 7, 2018, her nomination was reported by the Judiciary Committee by a party-line vote of 11–10.[191] However, her nomination languished as Democrats obstructed Trump's nomination on an unprecedented scale. In December 2018, Ohlhausen announced that she had withdrawn her nomination for the federal judiciary, opting instead to join Baker Botts as partner and co-chair of the firm's antitrust practice."[192]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Vacancy Summary for January 2017".
  2. ^ "'The dogma lives loudly within you': The battle over Trump's effort to remake the courts in his image is starting to heat up". Business Insider. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  3. ^ "ABA ratings during the Trump administration". Ballotpedia. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  4. ^ Porter, Tom (December 12, 2018). "Trump Is Rushing Through 'Unqualified' Judges Faster Than Any Other President". Newsweek. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  5. ^ Smith, Allan (November 15, 2017). "Trump is bypassing judicial ratings agencies before making his nominations — and it has led to a substantial increase in 'not qualified' nominees". Business Insider. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  6. ^ "Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary Ratings of Article III and Article IV Judicial Nominees" (PDF). American Bar Association. Retrieved September 24, 2019.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Congressional Record".
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