This Week in Judicial Nominations – 11/12

Courts News 11.12,19


Trump and Senate Republicans continue to shamelessly stack our federal courts with more ideological extremists. The total number of confirmations to lifetime appointments on the federal bench under Trump is now 161— nearly one-fifth of the entire federal judiciary, and a terrifying one-quarter of all circuit court judgeships in less than three years.

The Senate confirmed five judicial nominees last week, including David Tapp (U.S. Court of Federal Claims), Danielle Hunsaker (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Oregon), Lee Rudofsky (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas), Jennifer Wilson (U.S. District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania), and William Nardini (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Massachusetts). In particular, Rudofsky’s confirmation will bring bias to the bench as he has made a career out of working to advance an extreme right-wing agenda that will curtail critical civil rights and protections. Also, the confirmation of both Hunsaker and Nardini bring Trump’s total Circuit Court confirmations to 45. In comparison, due to Senate Republicans’ obstruction, President Obama appointed only 55 Circuit Court judges in his eight years in office.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also voted to advance the nomination of anti-civil rights nominee, Steven Menashi (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, New York). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on the nomination the same day, Thursday, November 7, and Menashi is expected to receive both a cloture and floor votes this week.

The Committee again held over Halil “Sul” Ozerden (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Mississippi) and he was expected to be listed on the Thursday, November 14 markup agenda but was skipped over this week as well. However, we anticipate that the following nominees will be on the agenda: Lawrence VanDyke (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Nevada), Patrick Bumatay (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, California), Philip Halpern (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York), Bernard Jones (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma), and Barbara Bailey Jongbloed (U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut).

Steven Menashi (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, New York)

Donald Trump nominated Steven Menashi to Thurgood Marshall’s seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. His record is antithetical to all Marshall worked for and accomplished. If confirmed, Menashi would be Betsy DeVos, Stephen Miller and Donald Trump in one, clothed in a judge’s robe. While working for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Menashi cut protections for sexual assault survivors, student loan borrowers, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students. The New York Times published a stunning report last week revealing that he played a central role in designing an illegal effort to deny debt relief to thousands of students cheated by for-profit colleges during his tenure with Secretary DeVos.

Now as an Associate White House Counsel, Menashi works alongside Stephen Miller on this administration’s most appalling immigration policies. All of this is consistent with his offensive and incendiary writings and previous work. Menashi also failed to disclose his involvement in Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelensky and the resulting whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

Menashi’s nomination has bipartisan opposition as Senator Susan Collins publicly announced, saying that she is concerned with his record and finds it “inappropriate” that he refused to answer senators’ basic questions about his work with the White House during his hearing.

Menashi is unqualified and unfit for a lifetime position. It’s not hard to believe that Menashi will ignore the law to pursue partisan politics as a judge. Senators must repudiate this nominee’s disturbing record by denying him a lifetime appointment on the federal judiciary.

Read The Leadership Conference’s letter in opposition to the confirmation of Steven Menashi, as well as the letter from 28 groups in opposition to Menashi on the basis of his record on immigration.

Halil “Sul” Ozerden (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Mississippi)

Sul Ozerden’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was held over yet again by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ozerden, who was first opposed by Senator Ted Cruz because he failed to meet his “political litmus test,” went out of his way to curry favor with GOP Senators and tried to prove the numerous ways in which he has demonstrated a commitment to and allegiance to conservative causes. Ozerden’s controversial nomination is another example of Trump and McConnell’s baseless agenda to roll back the progress we have made to advance civil and human rights. Senators must reject this partisan nomination.

Read The Leadership Conference’s letter in opposition to the confirmation of Halil “Sul” Ozerden.

For more information on these nominees, or for any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Rafael Medina (he/him)
Communications Manager
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The Leadership Conference Education Fund
1620 L Street NW, Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20036
202.869.0390 – Office | @civilrightsorg