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 CarperOvernight Energy: Inhofe defends Pruitt after criticisms | Agency releases study on water contaminant | Trump rescinds Obama ocean policy Dems press EPA nominees on ethics, climate Overnight Energy: Senate panel sets Pruitt hearing | Colorado joins California with tougher emissions rules | Court sides with Trump on coal leasing program MORE (Del.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral Actress Marcia Gay Harden urges Congress to boost Alzheimer's funding MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Heitkamp ad highlights record as Senate race heats up Supreme Court rules states can require online sellers to collect sales tax MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Trump caves under immense pressure — what now? Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral Manchin up 9 points over GOP challenger in W.Va. Senate race MORE (W.Va.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Rubio heckled by protestors outside immigration detention facility Obstacles to Trump's 'Space Force' could keep proposal grounded for now MORE (Fla.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersNTSB won't investigate Tesla that crashed into parked police car Poll: 8 in 10 people in key states concerned about driverless cars Federal 'turf war' complicates cybersecurity efforts MORE (Mich.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowModerates need to hold firm against radical right on Farm Bill New Kid Rock film explores political divide Congress must work with, not against, tribal communities in crafting Farm Bill MORE (Mich.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Virginia Dems want answers on alleged detention center abuse Wray defends FBI after 'sobering' watchdog report 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 FeinsteinSenate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays Children should not be human shields against immigration enforcement The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Immigration drama grips Washington 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 GrassleyGrassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report Senate Dems call for Judiciary hearing on Trump's 'zero tolerance' Republicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt 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 TrumpGOP lawmakers preparing to vote on bill allowing migrant children to be detained longer than 20 days: report Wasserman Schultz: Infants separated from their parents are in Florida immigrant shelters Ex-White House ethics chief: Sarah Sanders tweet violates ethics laws 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 McConnellMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Senate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays Political figures pay tribute to Charles Krauthammer 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.