Ninth and Second Circuit Picks Advance to Full Senate

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved four of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees on Thursday, including picks for the Ninth and Second Circuits.

The James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco, home of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (AP Photo/Ernest McGray)

The judges the committee approved Thursday enjoyed significant bipartisan support, as the committee delayed votes on several more controversial nominees so senators could pay their respects to the late Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, who will lie in state in the Capitol on Thursday.

A rarity for nominees to federal appeals courts, Ninth Circuit nominee Danielle Hunsaker and Second Circuit nominee William Nardini faced relatively little opposition from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee as they made their way to the floor.

Hunsaker has served on the Washington County Circuit Court in Oregon since 2017 and currently is the court’s presiding judge. Before taking the bench, Hunsaker worked in private practice at the Portland firms Larkins Vacura Kayser and Stoel Rives and clerked for Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain.

At her nomination hearing in September, Hunsaker described herself as an originalist and she told senators in response to questions submitted in writing after her nomination hearing in September that the legal philosophy that has been espoused by most Trump nominees is firmly rooted in the Constitution.

“I believe originalism is consistent with separation of powers established in the Constitution and the judiciary’s role to say what the law is,” Hunsaker wrote in response to questions from Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J.

A member of the conservative Federalist Society, Hunsaker received approval from the committee with a 16-6 vote. Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Democrats, signed off on the committee considering Hunsaker’s nomination, but have not yet said whether they will vote for her when she comes up for a confirmation vote in the full Senate.

Nardini, a longtime federal prosecutor, earned slightly more support from the committee Thursday, with only Senators Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and Booker, all three of whom are running for the Democratic nomination for president, voting against him.

Except for a break between 2010 and 2014 when he served as a Department of Justice attache at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Nardini has served as a federal prosecutor in Connecticut since 2000.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., backed Nardini, who also described himself to senators as an originalist.

“I believe he has a distinguished record and history of public service and he would be a good addition to that court,” Blumenthal said Thursday.

In addition to the circuit court nominees, the committee advanced the nominations of Karen Marston, up for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Anuraag Singhal, who is nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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