Trump’s Sixth Judicial Nominee Confirmed to 9th Circuit, Still Democrat Dominated

Trump’s Sixth Judicial Nominee Confirmed to 9th Circuit, Still Democrat Dominated
President Donald Trump answers questions as he departs the White House on April 26, 2019. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s sixth judicial nominee to the California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was approved on May 21, tilting the liberal court more toward the right.

Daniel Collins was confirmed by the Senate in a 53-46 vote, with all Republicans voting for and all Democrats who voted voting against. Collins is a former clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and was working as an appellate litigator.

“Very pleased to have confirmed another conservative judge to the Ninth Circuit. Daniel Collins will be an outstanding appellate court judge. He’s well-qualified and fully understands the difference between being a judge and a legislator,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement.

President Trump shared the statement on his Twitter feed.

Trump has regularly tangled with the 9th Circuit, which has blocked a number of his actions only to see the Supreme Court overturn its rulings.

The sixth nomination now has the court at 11 Republican-nominated judges but 16 Democratic-appointed judges still have the clear majority, noted Bloomberg Law. Trump has nominated dozens of judges since taking office and regular confirmations by the Republican-led Senate have changed the 3rd Circuit to a court with a majority of Republican-nominated judges, with the 2nd Circuit close to being flipped.

Collins nomination came over the objections of both U.S. senators representing California, Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

“Collins has a history of undermining civil and reproductive rights, even working to restrict access to birth control. California deserves better,” Feinstein said in a statement.

The statement referred to Collins filing arguments with the Supreme Court that argued that corporations could exercise religious freedom by not providing health care coverage for birth control to female employees.

Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote in an article for National Review that Collins, his friend, wrote, “Two outstanding amicus briefs [pdfs here and here] on behalf of the Ethics and Public Policy Center—the think tank I head—in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor/Zubik challenges to the Obama administration’s HHS contraceptive mandate.”

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, on April 9, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/Photo via AP)

Two vacancies on the 9th Circuit exist. Daniel Bress, another former clerk for Scalia, has been nominated for one with the other, designated to Oregon, still without a nominee after Ryan Bounds nomination was removed last year.

Collins’s confirmation came about a week after Kenneth Lee was confirmed 52-45 to a 9th Circuit vacancy.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement that Lee “a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School and held a clerkship in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. His record since then has been marked by success in private practice as a litigator, distinguished public service as associate White House counsel during the Bush administration, and work as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University Law School.”

“In addition to a ‘unanimously well qualified’ rating from the ABA and a favorable report from the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Lee has earned the especially high esteem of one of our own colleagues. The junior senator from Arkansas attended law school with the nominee,” he added, referring to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). “He has personally testified that Mr. Lee is, quote, ‘not only a brilliant lawyer but more important, he’s a man of high character.'”

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