January 30, 2019

Feinstein, Harris on Ninth Circuit Nominees

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (both D-Calif.) today issued the following statement on President Trump’s Ninth Circuit nominees for California:

“We are deeply disappointed that the White House has chosen to re-nominate Daniel Collins and Kenneth Lee to the Ninth Circuit. We made clear our opposition to these individuals and told the White House we wanted to work together to come to consensus on a new package of nominees.

“In fact, we even identified candidates selected by the White House we could support to demonstrate our willingness to work cooperatively. Unfortunately, the White House is moving forward with three nominees to a circuit court who have no judicial experience. The White House’s decision to push these nominees fails to secure consensus on the circuit court.

“In contrast, we have had productive conversations about district court vacancies, and believe we have found a balanced compromise where we will be able to fill the vacancies and support a number of candidates. That is how the process is supposed to work.

“We are frustrated the same resolution was not achieved for the Ninth Circuit and this fundamentally demonstrates the importance of the blue slip. When an administration knows blue slips have to be honored, negotiations can achieve consensus results.

Kenneth Lee

“We made clear to the White House that we could not support Kenneth Lee in this package, in part because he failed to turn over controversial writings to our judicial selection committees, which is an important part of the vetting process. Instead, the writings were later discovered by staff and press.

“In addition, the writings themselves outlined extreme views on a number of important issues like affirmative action and voting rights. This has been disqualifying for previous nominees, including Ryan Bounds to the Ninth Circuit.

Daniel Collins

“We also told the White House that we could not support Daniel Collins because concerns about his temperament and rigidity were raised during his vetting. In particular, we were told that Mr. Collins has a history of taking strong litigation positions for no reason other than attempting to overturn precedent and push legal boundaries. This should be a concern to all senators—it should not be a partisan issue. Consistency and stability are vital in the law.

Daniel Bress

“Finally, we raised concerns about Daniel Bress since he lives in Washington, D.C., not California, is quite young and has no judicial experience.

“Chairman Graham has said he wants to protect senators’ role in the nominations process. Historically, the greatest protection for home-state senators has been the blue-slip tradition. When he was chairman of the committee, Senator Leahy ensured that no nominee had a hearing unless Republican senators returned their blue slips. We hope Chairman Graham will honor the same standards Republicans were afforded when a Democratic president held the White House.

“We’ve shown that we’re willing to work with the White House, agreeing to candidates from its list and negotiating a deal on district courts—the same should be done for the Ninth Circuit.”

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