WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate on Thursday confirmed a nominee to the Second Circuit who has worked as an attorney in a high-profile case challenging Harvard’s affirmative action policies, marking the second judge approved for the New York City-based appeals court in as many days.
A partner at the New York firm Consovoy McCarthy Park since 2015, Michael Park has worked on several closely watched cases challenging the admissions practices of colleges and universities, including cases against the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas.
Park has also represented a group called Students for Fair Admissions in its challenge to affirmative action policies at Harvard, which the group says unfairly disadvantage Asian-American applicants.
The case is eventually expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Park is the son of immigrants from South Korea, and told the Senate Judiciary Committee during his nomination hearing that he faced discrimination while applying for schools and has talked to others with similar experiences as part of his work on the cases.
A former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Park also filed a brief on behalf of a client in support of the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Like other judicial nominees tapped by President Donald Trump with extensive records of working on conservative legal causes, Park told the Judiciary Committee he was not advancing his own political views when working on the cases, but was instead making the best possible legal arguments for his clients.
“My personal views about the client’s arguments or policy positions are not part of what I do as a lawyer,” Park said at his nomination hearing in February. “I represent their interests zealously within the bounds of the law.”
But Democrats did not buy Park’s claims that his work in the courtroom was nothing more than faithful advocacy, saying he will bring a staunch conservative viewpoint to the bench.
“Mr. Park has little experience and little judicial background,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday ahead of a procedural vote on Park’s nomination. “He is an ideologue. He doesn’t have the kind of balance and integrity and compassion and understanding of both sides that any judge needs.”
Park received confirmation with a 52-41 vote on Thursday afternoon.
The confirmation puts Trump a step closer to flipping the New York City-based Second Circuit, as Park will become the sixth judge on the 13-member court appointed by a Republican president.
The Senate also confirmed Joseph Bianco to the same court on Wednesday.