Trump Taps Seven for California Federal Judgeships

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump put forward seven names late Wednesday to fill Ninth Circuit vacancies and several other California federal judgeships, drawing backlash from the state’s two Democratic senators.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Kirkland & Ellis partner Daniel Bress is the only new nominee on the list, as Trump nominated the other six during the last Congress. None of those six were confirmed and all were sent back to the White House at the end of the year under standard procedure.

Bress, a former clerk of Justice Antonin Scalia, focuses his practice on complex litigation, including class actions, fraud cases and products liability. His clients include large companies such as Boeing, Raytheon and Wyndham.

The other two Ninth Circuit nominees, Munger, Tolles & Olson partner Daniel Collins and Jenner & Block partner Kenneth Lee, were the subject of handwringing from conservatives in recent days after their names were left off of a long list of renominations Trump announced earlier this month.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board decried a “bad judges deal” just this past Tuesday, observing that Trump appeared to be giving in to pressure from California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, who both opposed the nominations and were urging the White House to give them a greater say in who will fill the vacancies.

Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, wrote an article Wednesday in National Review that similarly condemned the rumored deal, saying it would “reward [Feinstein’s] bad behavior.”

After Trump announced he was renominating Collins and Lee, the senators in a statement said the White House ignored their efforts to “come to a consensus” on a new batch of nominees.

“Unfortunately, the White House is moving forward with three nominees to a circuit court who have no judicial experience,” the senators said in a joint statement Wednesday evening. “The White House’s decision to push these nominees fails to secure consensus on the circuit court.”

Feinstein and Harris said they oppose Lee because of articles he penned that were critical of affirmative action policies. The senators said he also did not turn over the writings to their judicial selection committees.

The senators raised questions as well about Collins’ “temperament and rigidity,” saying they were told during the vetting process that Collins “has a history of taking strong litigation positions for no reason other than attempting to overturn precedent and push legal boundaries.”

As for Bress, the senators objected to his youth and lack of judicial experience. They also noted that he currently lives and works in Washington, D.C., despite being nominated to fill a California seat on the appeals court.

Patrick Bumatay, who serves as a federal prosecutor in California, has also been renominated to a federal judgeship after being initially left off the list of renewed nominees. Trump last Congress nominated Bumatay to a Ninth Circuit seat, but has now put him up for a spot on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Bumatay, who would have been the first openly gay judge on the Ninth Circuit, currently advises the attorney general on issues related to the opioid crisis and transnational criminal groups.

The three other U.S. District Court nominees announced Wednesday are Horvitz & Levy attorney Jeremy Rosen; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy partner Mark Scarsi; and Lost Angeles Superior Court Judge Stanley Blumenfeld. All were nominated last Congress, and Feinstein and Harris said they represent “a balanced compromise.”

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