Administration

Biden plans to nominate anti-abortion lawyer as federal judge: Yarmuth

President Biden plans to nominate a conservative lawyer who has represented anti-abortion causes to a federal judgeship in Kentucky, according to Rep. John Yarmuth’s (D-Ky.) office.

Chad Meredith, the attorney, has previously served as Kentucky’s solicitor general and represented a number of Kentucky’s top GOP officials in cases curbing abortion access and COVID-19 public health measures.

Meredith represented Kentucky’s then-Gov. Matt Bevin (R) in a 2019 legal battle against an abortion clinic, saying at one point that effectively eliminating access to abortion in the state would have a negligible impact on women seeking the procedure.

He also defended a 2017 state law requiring doctors to perform an ultrasound and describe the image to a patient before providing an abortion, according to the Louisville Courier Journal, which first reported the news of his pending nomination.

Christopher Schuler, Yarmuth’s communications director, told The Hill that White House staff informed the congressman of Biden’s intent to nominate Meredith, but declined to provide further comment to The Hill.

The Courier-Journal reported that the nomination appears to be the result of a deal between Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to facilitate future Biden nominees. Yarmuth opposes the nomination, according to the outlet.

“Given that a judicial position isn’t currently open on the Eastern District Court, it’s clear that this is part of some larger deal on judicial nominations between the president and Mitch McConnell,” Yarmuth told the Courier-Journal.

Biden’s nomination would come amid intense Democratic anger over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the country’s constitutional right to abortion.

The decision has led to a number of lawsuits in states across the country seeking to block so-called trigger laws that were in place to ban or severely restrict abortion as soon as Roe was overturned.

Kentucky was among the states with a trigger abortion ban that went into effect immediately upon the Supreme Court’s ruling. The law makes exceptions for cases when a mother’s life is at risk.

The White House, McConnell’s office and Meredith did not return requests for comment.

Meredith, who served as chief deputy general counsel under Bevin, asked a federal appeals court in 2019 to restore a state law requiring abortion clinics to have written transfer agreements with a hospital and ambulance service in case of emergency, according to the Associated Press.

The outlet reported that the law had been struck down by a federal judge who believed it would effectively eliminate the right to abortion in the state. That argument was echoed by the abortion clinic’s attorney opposing Meredith in the appeal. 

Bevin said at the time that if the law “results in no abortion clinics, fantastic,” according to the Associated Press.

Meredith said if the state’s last abortion clinic shut down, the impact would be “essentially none” for women, since they would still be within 150 miles of an out-of-state clinic due to Kentucky’s geography.

Kentucky Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, said it was “very impressed” with Meredith’s work on behalf of the Bevin administration.

“He represented Kentuckians in numerous legal cases brought against the pro-life laws passed by our General Assembly during the Bevin administration,” the group wrote on its website.

Meredith also successfully defended a law before the state’s Supreme Court that stripped Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s powers to implement emergency COVID-19 measures, per the Courier Journal.

Meredith is listed as a contributor to the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian legal group. His biography notes that he is “one of the few lawyers in Kentucky to have clerked for both a United States district judge and a United States circuit judge.”

He joined law firm Squire Patton Boggs in January.

Tags abortion Biden Chad Meredith Federal judge John Yarmuth John Yarmuth Matt Bevin Mitch McConnell Roe v. Wade
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