Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday battled over the propriety of questioning Peter Phipps, a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, about his membership in a Catholic fraternal organization.

Phipps took a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania only six months ago. Before that, he was senior trial counsel in the federal programs branch at the Justice Department’s Civil Division, and spent three years as an associate at Jones Day, where he focused on civil litigation. He got his law degree from Stanford Law School.

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