Senate confirms Larsen to federal appeals court

Senate confirms Larsen to federal appeals court

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, who made the short list for the vacant Supreme Court seat now held by Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed to the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

The Senate confirmed Larsen by a vote of 60-38 with the support of eight Democrats: Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump Overnight Energy: California regulators vote to close nuclear plant | Watchdog expands Pruitt travel probe | Washington state seeks exemption from offshore drilling plan Overnight Regulation: Fight erupts over gun export rules | WH meets advocates on prison reform | Officials move to allow Medicaid work requirements | New IRS guidance on taxes MORE (Del.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDems search for winning playbook GOP anxious with Trump on trade Blue wave of 2018 stops in Indiana and Missouri MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota GOP's Cramer won't run for ND Senate seat GOP Rep. Cramer 'trending' toward ND Senate run MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMcConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Senate campaign fundraising reports roll in MORE (W.Va.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonSenate campaign fundraising reports roll in Week ahead: Tech giants to testify on extremist content Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (Fla.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersPeters passes on run for Michigan governor Trump’s infrastructure plan may slip to next month GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ MORE (Mich.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump Prominent Michigan Republican drops out of Senate primary GOP chairman shoots down Democrat effort to delay tax work until Jones is seated MORE (Mich.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Dem lawmaker wants briefing on major chip vulnerabilities Week ahead: Tech giants to testify on extremist content MORE (Va.).

Outside groups had raised concerns over whether Larsen would be an independent check on the executive branch.

Alliance for Justice pointed to a 2006 guest column in the Detroit News in which she argued that then-President George W. Bush had the authority to disregard a law Congress passed prohibiting the U.S. government from allowing torture.

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“Either way, the president's independent vision of what the Constitution requires is critical,” she wrote. “Denying the president a constitutional voice is the real threat to our system of separated powers."

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Democrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration MORE (D-Calif.) refused to support Larsen’s nomination when the Senate Judiciary Committee took a vote last month. Feinstein said she was concerned that the Judicial Crisis Network had spent $100,000 on ads supporting her nomination.

“When Justice Larsen was given the opportunity to disavow those ads or to publicly state she didn’t want this dark money, outside group working on her behalf, she declined to do so,” Feinstein said.

In a statement Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Five hurdles to a big DACA and border deal Grand jury indicts Maryland executive in Uranium One deal: report MORE (R-Iowa) called it "outrageous” and “ridiculous” that a minority member would suggest Larsen was responsible for outside groups running ads supporting her nomination.

“I find it interesting that my colleagues who are complaining about conservative groups don’t seem to have much concern for the groups on the left that are spending money in opposition to nominees,” he said.

Grassley singled out the Alliance for Justice, claiming it often makes incendiary and false criticisms of judicial nominees in its reports.

The Judicial Crisis Network praised the Senate for confirming Larsen Wednesday, calling her “an exceedingly well-qualified, accomplished judge."

“Justice Larsen brings with her a sterling background, and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law,” Carrie Severino, the group's chief counsel and policy director, said in a statement. “Hopefully, this is just the beginning of many more confirmations of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE’s excellent judicial nominees.”

Alliance for Justice, meanwhile, called Larsen another “troublesome” judge.

"Joan Larsen's confirmation makes it two down, two to go in Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE's irresponsible race to confirm four circuit court nominees in a single week,” Nan Aron, the group’s president, said in a statement, referring to the Senate majority leader.

"Larsen is probably one of the most troublesome federal judges President Trump has given us, because she believes presidents have the right to ignore the law if they think there's a risk to national security. That kind of power would be terrifying in the hands of Donald Trump."

Larsen’s confirmation comes in the midst of Republican threats to change the Senate rules and shorten the amount of debate time needed to confirm judicial nominees.