Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Re: What Ever Happened to Those Ninth Circuit Nominees?

I share Carrie Severino’s deep alarm at the White House’s failure (so far) to renominate the three candidates nominated in mid-November for seats on the Ninth Circuit in California.

If all had gone as it should have, Daniel P. Collins, Patrick J. Bumatay, and Kenneth K. Lee would already have had their committee hearings by now and be on a glidepath to confirmation. Instead, they are sitting in limbo.

What possible reason could there be to try to strike a deal with Senator Feinstein on these seats? Senate Republicans don’t need her vote, and the White House’s extensive efforts to engage Feinstein before Collins, Bumatay, and Lee were nominated surely ought to satisfy new committee chairman Lindsey Graham that her failure to return a positive blue slip should not be a barrier to going forward on their nominations. (Ditto, of course, on Senator Kamala Harris.)

By its strange show of weakness, the White House not only invites more intransigence from Senate Democrats; it also makes it less likely that outstanding candidates will make themselves available for nomination. Who would ever have imagined that, in the absence of any controversy or concern about confirmation, the White House would abandon someone the president had already nominated?

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