Two Democratic senators from Oregon have announced their intent to block President Trump’s 9th Circuit Court judicial nominee, claiming that a “longstanding” state tradition mandating that nominees are chosen from their ‘judicial selection committee.’
Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have threatened to block the White House’s nomination of Oregon Assistant Attorney General Ryan Bounds. They claim that judges being nominated from Oregon must first go through a ‘judicial selection committee,’ despite this alleged tradition not appearing anywhere in any historical records, or laws.
In a joint letter to White House, referencing the ‘blue slip’ process by which judicial nominees are affirmed in the senate, Wyden and Merkley declared, “We cannot return a blue slip on any judicial nominee that has not been approved by our bipartisan judicial selection committee … We have a long history of organizing a committee charged with thoroughly vetting applicants from the Oregon legal community. We do not intend to return our blue slips for Ryan Bounds or any other nominee that has not been selected through our judicial selection process.”
Though both the Senators Wyden and Merkley refer to this selection as a tradition which is “longstanding”, the historical record suggests that these democratic senators are making a sad attempt at obstruction, and fabricating illegitimate and false processes to justify their actions. No judge on the 9th Circuit Court has ever been subjected to a state level ‘judicial selection committee,’ and constitutionally, it is the prerogative of the executive branch alone to nominate judges to the federal courts.
Bounds has been nominated to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated by Oregon Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, who notified the former President Obama of his intent to retire last September.
Judge Susan Garber, of the 9th Circuit has noted that there was never such a selection committee set up for her, “There is no selection commission in my jurisdiction to recommend candidates for nomination to the United States Court of Appeals,” she wrote in an official judicial nominee questionnaire, she further added, “I informed the President by letter of my interest in being considered for that vacancy … His response stated that he had referred the matter to the White House Counsel’s Office.”
Fifteen of Oregon’s 30 state senators, twelve Republicans and three Democrats, wrote to Wyden and Merkley on Tuesday to let them know that they were confident that if they “were to meet with him and review his range of experience,” they would “concur that Bounds should be considered by the Senate and would be easily confirmed.”