Trump revives fight over key appeals court

Trump revives fight over key appeals court
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE announced this week a slate of 9th Circuit judicial nominees, immediately adding new life into the months-long feud over the California-based seats.

The White House on Wednesday night said the president intends to nominate Kenneth Lee, Daniel Collins and Daniel Bress to serve as appeals court judges. Lee and Collins were nominated last year but didn’t get a final confirmation vote in the Senate.

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Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a tweet Thursday that she is “deeply disappointed” in the White House’s decision to renominate Lee and Collins.

“We made clear our opposition to these individuals and told the White House we wanted to work together to come to consensus on a new package of nominees,” Feinstein said as part of the tweet thread, adding that she and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment MORE (D-Calif.) had identified White House-selected nominees that “we could support” but the White House is “moving forward with three nominees to a circuit court who have no judicial experience.”

In a separate joint statement with Harris, the two senators said they had raised concerns about Bress’s nomination, arguing that he lives in Washington, D.C., “is quite young and has no judicial experience.”

They added that they were able to work out an agreement on the lower-level district judges and said “the same should be done for the ninth circuit.”

Picks for the 9th Circuit are considered a top priority for Republicans, who have had a long-held goal of rebalancing the appeals court that they argue is too liberal and too large.

The circuit court, based in San Francisco, has frustrated Trump by acting as a foil to some of his most controversial policies, including ruling against the travel ban and an effort to cut off federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities.

Democrats are largely powerless to stop Trump’s court picks from being confirmed without GOP defections. In 2013, Democrats, led by then-Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidConstitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Klobuchar: 'I don't remember' conversation with Reid over alleged staff mistreatment Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (D-Nev.), nixed the 60-vote filibuster for executive and lower court nominees. Republicans did the same for Supreme Court picks last year.

Republicans, under Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE (R-Iowa), have also refused to let the lack of a “blue slip”— a sheet of paper indicating support — from a home state senator prevent a circuit court pick from getting a vote.

Feinstein, in her tweet, said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war Graham seeks new Rosenstein testimony after explosive McCabe interview Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE (R-S.C.), who's now the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, should use the “blue-slip tradition” to “protect senators’ role in nominations.”

“When a Democrat was president, Republicans strongly defended blue slips & Democrats honored them. That shouldn’t change because a Republican is president,” Feinstein tweeted.

The White House argued late last year that it had tried to work with Feinstein and Harris on the court nominations. But, according to a timeline provided by then-White House counsel Don McGahn, negotiations appeared to derail over the summer.

Graham indicated on Thursday that he was supportive of the 9th Circuit picks, saying they “continue a trend by the Trump Administration of selecting highly qualified men and women to serve on the federal bench.”

“I’m very supportive of the nominees submitted by President Trump to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. These are highly qualified nominees and I am hopeful they will receive wide bipartisan support,” Graham said.