Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell withdrew one of President Trump’s judicial nominees for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday after failing to get the majority of the Senate to back the president’s pick ahead of his confirmation vote.
Ryan W. Bounds, an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, faced pushback from his two Democratic home-state senators, who said the nominee withheld controversial writings when he was being vetted for the federal bench.
One of those senators said Mr. Bounds defended vandalizing a gay-pride monument, argued against measures to protect sexual assault survivors, and compared campus groups promoting multiculturalism in America to Nazis while writing for his college newspaper.
“Mr. Bounds misrepresented — in my view really lied — as he covered up disturbing intolerant writings from his past,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat.
The writings were discovered after Oregon’s bipartisan committee, which handles judicial nominees, vetted Mr. Bounds.
With the Republican’s slim 51-49 majority and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, out due to his illness, opposition from two GOP senators- — Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida — led to Mr. Bounds’ confirmation vote being canceled.
“After talking with the nominee last night and meeting with him today, I had unanswered questions that led to me being unable to support him,” Mr. Scott said Thursday.
“Sen. Scott needed more time to talk to people who knew him and that’s not available. Sen. Scott said he couldn’t vote for him today if the vote was now. I support him in that decision,” Mr. Rubio told reporters.
The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, was unaware the nomination would be withdrawn moments before the senators were supposed to cast their votes.
“These are hard things, you know, you learn things as you go along in the process and sometimes it changes, and I think that’s one of those,” she told reporters as she left the chamber floor.
Democrats, though, criticized Republican leaders earlier in the day for plans to move forward with the nominee since neither Mr. Wyden nor Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon’s other senator, signed off on the pick by returning their blue slip to the judiciary committee.
A blue slip is a piece of paper signaling support of a judicial nominee from the senator’s home state. Typically, if a blue slip isn’t returned on a nominee, a confirmation hearing and vote is withheld.
The tradition dates back more than 100 years, but Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, said so long as the White House consults senators on a circuit court pick from their states, he would allow the president’s nominee to have a hearing and a vote. He said this is how all but two judiciary committee chairmen have handled the process.
Mr. Grassley said Mr. Bounds’ college writings from 25 years ago should not be a reason to reject him, criticizing both Mr. Wyden and Mr. Merkley for refusing to meet with the nominee during the confirmation process.
“Interestingly, none of them cite anything Mr. Bounds has done in his legal career as a reason for opposing his nomination,” Mr. Grassley said.
Despite Mr. Bounds’ nomination being withdrawn Thursday, the president has had 23 circuit court nominees confirmed since he took office last year and 20 district court judges appointed during that time.
There’s currently four circuit court nominees and 52 district court picks still before the Senate, awaiting confirmation votes.
The four pending circuit court nominees are Britt Grant for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, David J. Porter for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and A. Marvin Quattlebaum, Jr. and Julius N. Richardson for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
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