(CN) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell withdrew the nomination of Ryan Bounds for a seat on the 9th Circuit Thursday afternoon after Sen. Tim Scott raised concerns about racially insensitive remarks the nominee made in past academic writings.
Scott, the only African American Republican in the Senate, told reporters he spoke at a Republican caucus lunch on Thursday telling his colleagues of his concerns about Ryan Bounds, a federal prosecutor in Oregon who is up for a seat on the Ninth Circuit.
Scott, who represents South Carolina, told reporters “the process, I thought, was incomplete” and that he needed more time to review the nominee’s record before the vote. Scott told reporters he was not trying to convince other members that they should also oppose Bounds, but that other lawmakers indicated they would join him.
Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also said he would opposed Bounds’ nomination for the same reason.
Learning of Scott’s resistance, the White House withdrew the nomination and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pulled the confirmation vote from the floor of the senate just moments before it was to happen.
Immediately after the decision to withdraw Bounds’ nomination was announced, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the senate’s Democratic whip, said “Ryan Bounds never deserved a seat on the federal bench. I’m glad his judicial nomination was just withdrawn.”
The writings were at the center of Bounds’ nomination fight in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which reported him favorable early last month. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said a majority of the members of a bipartisan nominating committee Oregon uses to vet candidates have said they would not have recommended Bounds had they known about the writings, which Bounds did not submit to the committee.
In op-eds for the conservative student newspaper the Stanford Review, Bounds criticized racial activist groups on Stanford’s campus, saying in one article their efforts “contribute more to restricting consciousness” than “many a Nazi bookburning.”
“Whenever a group of white males happens to be at the same place at the same time, you can be sure that the foul stench of oppression and exploitation lingers in the air,” Bounds wrote. “In contrast, ethnic centers, whose sole purpose is to bring together exclusive cliques of students to revel in racial purity are so righteous that the mere mention of cutting their budgets incites turmoil on the grandest scale.”
Scott told reporters he was not bothered that his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee did not shoot down Bounds over the comments before sending him to the Senate floor.
“Everybody just does their own due diligence and unfortunately I’m not on the Judiciary Committee so mine started later than others and we were still in the middle of that process,” Scott told reporters, adding, “I had not tried to convince anybody to do anything, I just shared my thoughts and others said they were willing to join and either ask for more information so that we could have a better picture or simply say no at the end.”
Scott voted to end debate on Bounds’ nomination on Wednesday, a procedural vote that typically signals whether a nominee or piece of legislation has the requisite support to continue. Because of the narrow margin Republicans hold in the Senate, a single Republican voting against a nominee is enough to sink the nominee’s chances.
In May, Bounds apologized for the tone of his college writings and he later cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in June by a party-line, 11-10 vote.
Republicans broke 100-years of Senate precedent by moving Bounds’ nomination forward over the objections of both senators who represent his home state of Oregon.
Because of the current makeup of the senate it only takes the defection of one GOP senator to scuttle a nomination.
If he had been approved, Bounds would have been Trump’s 24th appellate judge. He previously served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for Oregon.