Cruz to oppose Trump appeals court pick

 
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate braces for a nasty debt ceiling fight Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor How Sen. Graham can help fix the labor shortage with commonsense immigration reform MORE (R-S.C.) "is aware" of Cruz's decision to oppose Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden's nomination, a spokesperson for Graham confirmed.
 
Cruz has long been viewed as a likely no vote by court watchers after he grilled Ozerden during a July hearing. He told The Hill at the time that he had "serious concerns ... and those concerns were not satisfied at the hearing."
 
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Cruz said on Thursday that he didn't believe Ozerden, who is a district judge in Mississippi, had a "strong, demonstrated record as a constitutionalist." 
 
"I have significant concerns that Judge Ozerden’s judicial record does not indicate that he meets that standard. For that reason, I do not believe he should be on the court of appeals, and I will oppose his nomination," Cruz said in a statement for this story," Cruz said in a statement to Politico, which first reported Cruz's opposition. 
 
Ozerden has faced skepticism by GOP senators, and outright criticism from some outside groups, who question his conservative credentials and his dismissal of a case involving ObamaCare’s birth control mandate. 
 
But Cruz is the first senator to say he will oppose his nomination. Other Republican members of the Judiciary Committee, including Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyAtlanta-area spa shootings suspect set to be arraigned Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Competition laws could be a death knell for startup mergers and acquisitions MORE (Mo.) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.), have yet to say how they will vote. 
 
Kelly Shackelford, the president of the First Liberty Institute, said the group is "grateful" for Cruz's opposition. 
 
"Elevating Judge Ozerden to a lifetime appointment on an influential federal appeals court would be a mistake. ... There are many highly qualified candidates for the Fifth Circuit. Judge Ozerden is not one of them," Shackelford said.
 
Graham, who has said he supports Ozerden, hasn't yet scheduled a vote on the nomination. A spokesperson for Graham said on Thursday that they didn't have any announcements about a potential vote.
 
A spokesperson for the White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 
 
Republicans have put a premium on confirming Trump's judicial nominees, which they view as a unifier for the party. They've also set a record for their pace of confirming influential appeals. 
 
But Cruz isn't the first GOP senator to come out against one of Trump's picks. 

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Biden: Republicans who say Democrats want to defund the police are lying MORE (R-S.C.) drew fire from conservatives last year for helping spike two nominations — Ryan Bounds to be a circuit judge and Thomas Farr to be a district judge — because of their writings related to race.

And Michigan attorney Michael Bogren withdrew his district court nomination earlier this year after pushback from conservatives, including Hawley.