Trump revives fight over key appeals court

Trump revives fight over key appeals court
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 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 FeinsteinDems reject Barr's offer to view Mueller report with fewer redactions Five takeaways from Mueller's report Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates 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 HarrisDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? K Street support to test Buttigieg 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 ReidSenate buzzsaw awaits 2020 progressive proposals Sanders courts GOP voters with 'Medicare for All' plan Glamorization of the filibuster must end 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 GrassleyOn The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost The 7 most interesting nuggets from the Mueller report Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal impact on economy 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 GrahamKushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Africa's women can change a continent: Will Ivanka give them her full support? If you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 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.