This week is a busy and important one for judicial confirmations. First, the Senate is taking confirmation votes on six excellent circuit court nominees: Michael B. Brennan (Seventh Circuit), Joel M. Carson (Tenth Circuit), Kurt D. Engelhardt (Fifth Circuit), John B. Nalbandian (Sixth Circuit), Michael Y. Scudder (Seventh Circuit), and Amy J. St. Eve (Seventh Circuit). The Senate invoked cloture on Judge Engelhardt's nomination this evening, 64 to 31.
Majority Leader McConnell is threatening to hold the Senate in session through the weekend to ensure that these nominees are confirmed. Hesaid on the Senate floor earlier today:
This week, the Senate will consider another slate of extremely well-qualified nominees for seats on the federal bench. A thoughtful, independent, and expert judiciary is a cornerstone of our constitutional order. It’s been the case since the very beginning.
Accordingly, the six circuit court nominees we’ll now consider have excellent reputations in the legal field, and have demonstrated they understand the proper role of federal judges in our government. First up is Kurt Engelhardt of Louisiana, the president’s choice to serve on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with Republican House member Greg Walden, formed a selection committee to rank candidates for federal judicial vacancies in Oregon. According to this February 2018 letter from Wyden and Merkley to White House counsel Don McGahn, the selection committee “consisted of eight highly experienced and diverse Oregon attorneys” who “carefully reviewed the applications of all the judicial candidates” and interviewed the finalists. Bounds emerged from this process as one of the selection committee’s “four highest ranked candidates” (“listed in alphabetical order”) for the very position to which Trump nominated him.
You’d think that the fact that the Wyden-Merkley selection committee ranked Bounds as one of the very top candidates would stand him in good stead with them. But Wyden and Merkley have not only declined to support his nomination and even returned negative blue slips on his nomination. . . .