WASHINGTON (CN) – The future of President Donald Trump’s choice for a seat on the Fifth Circuit is uncertain after multiple Republicans have spoken out against his nomination.
Politico reported Thursday that Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has told colleagues he will not support Judge Sul Ozerden, who is nominated to a seat on the New Orleans-based federal appeals court. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had previously come out against Ozerden’s nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee delayed a meeting Thursday morning where it was scheduled to vote on Ozerden’s nomination. A spokesperson for Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the committee, did not return a request to clarify if the delay was related to Ozerden’s nomination.
With Hawley and Cruz expected to vote against him, Ozerden would need to pick up support from Democrats in order to receive a favorable report from the committee, which has a 12-10 Republican majority. Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters Thursday he plans to vote for Ozerden if the committee gets the chance.
Conservative lawmakers and legal minds have said Ozerden does not have the consistent conservative track record necessary to take a seat on the Fifth Circuit, which hears cases from Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Some have noted Ozerden was not a member of a conservative legal group until he joined the Federalist Society this year, just before he was nominated to the court.
Conservative activists have not been active in supporting Ozerden, a rarity for Trump’s judicial nominees.
Senators have particularly zeroed in on a ruling from Ozerden’s time on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in which he dismissed a challenge the Catholic Archdiocese of Biloxi brought against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.
In the ruling, Ozerden said because the Obama administration was in the process of changing the regulation, the challenge was not ready to be heard.
But conservatives opposed to Ozerden’s nomination have pointed out that another court that faced a similar lawsuit around the same time did not immediately dismiss the challenge, but rather stayed the case to see if the regulation actually changed. Mike Berry, chief of staff at the First Liberty Institute, which has opposed Ozerden’s nomination, said Ozerden should have followed a similar route.
“Long story short, that demonstrates a hostility to the constitutional principles that conservatives in this country really care about,” Berry said in an interview earlier this month.
At his nomination hearing in July, Ozerden said his “hands were tied” by the Fifth Circuit’s precedent that required him to dismiss the case.