Two of President Donald Trump’s nominees for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit were voted out of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee along party lines on Thursday, bringing each one step closer to joining the federal appellate bench.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Frank Bianco of the Eastern District of New York and Consovoy McCarthy Park name attorney Michael Park were sent to the full Senate for consideration on 12-10 votes. While receiving unanimous Republican backing in the committee, Democrats fumed over both picks advancing despite the lack of support from New York’s U.S. senators.
“In the past century, before President Trump took office, only five judges in history have been confirmed with only one ‘blue slip,’ and the last one was in 1989,” said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, the committee’s ranking Democrat, during the meeting in Washington, D.C. The Law Journal monitored the hearing via livestream on the committee’s website. She made reference to the process where senators provide their opinion on a federal court nominee. In the past, unfavorable or withheld blue slips from a senator could scuttle an administration’s selection.
Feinstein claimed that deference in the Judiciary Committee was being sidelined under Trump.
“Despite the repeated objections of Democratic senators, on and off the committee, the majority continues to move forward with nominees who lack home-state support, and today is no exception,” Feinstein said.
U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both New York Democrats, have vocally opposed the nominations of Bianco and Park, both of whom are New Yorkers. In a statement Thursday, Schumer, the Senate minority leader, lamented what he called the push by Senate Republicans to secure lifetime appointments for “hard-right nominees.” Schumer took particular aim at Park, a former clerk of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito whose record in private practice has drawn the ire of Democrats.
“Mr. Park has spent much of his career working in opposition to civil rights and seeking to advance the far-right agenda,” Schumer said. “He has been on the front lines of efforts to dismantle affirmative action policies in education, strike down our health care law, and is currently defending the Trump administration’s effort to insert a citizenship question into the 2020 census.”
Gillibrand’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, in addition to arguing Democrats were to blame for the breach over blue slips, defended Park’s selection by the White House ahead of the vote that sent him and Bianco to the full Senate for consideration.
“He has an ideological dispute with Mr. Park,” Graham said of Schumer’s view on the nominee. “I think Mr. Park is extraordinarily qualified. It would be somebody you would not pick—I’m the first to say that; no Democrat would pick Mr. Park. … That’s the whole point of having an election.”
Park did not respond to a request for comment.