Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition

Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition
© Greg Nash
President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE's pick for an influential circuit court is in jeopardy over Republican opposition to the nomination. 
 
The Senate Judiciary Committee is leaving Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden's nomination off its agenda for a Thursday business meeting where five other judicial nominations are expected to get a vote, according to a committee notice sent out on Monday. 
 
The decision to leave him off the weekly agenda was made "at the request of the WH," a committee aide told The Hill, using an abbreviation for the White House. 
 
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The committee aide directed questions about the status of the nomination to the administration. Spokespeople for the White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the decision, or on whether Trump was planning to withdraw Ozerden's nomination.
 
But the decision comes as a vote on Ozerden's nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been held over in the Judiciary Committee five times, most recently last Thursday. 
 
Asked after last week's meeting if Ozerden's nomination was dead, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamObama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Trump putting TikTok ban on hold for 45 days: report This week: Negotiators hunt for coronavirus deal as August break looms MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters, "I don't know." 
 
The seeming limbo comes less than a week after Graham initially predicted that Ozerden would make it through the committee. 
 
Ozerden had drawn opposition from two GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee: Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Trump tests GOP loyalty with election tweet and stimulus strategy Republicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election MORE (Texas) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  McConnell: 15-20 GOP senators will not vote for any coronavirus deal Trump plans to order Chinese company to sell TikTok's US operations: reports MORE (Mo.). Two other GOP senators, Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP may face choice on tax cut or stimulus checks Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases MORE (Tenn.) and Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP McConnell: 15-20 GOP senators will not vote for any coronavirus deal CNN chyron says 'nah' to Trump claim about Russia MORE (Neb.), haven't yet announced how they'll vote on Ozerden. 
 
Ozerden has the backing of his two home-state senators, Sens. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: INOVIO R&D Chief Kate Broderick 'completely confident' world will develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine; GOP boxed in on virus negotiations Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers zero in on Twitter after massive hack | US, UK, Canada allege Russian hackers targeted COVID-19 vaccine researchers | Top EU court rules data transfer deal with the US is illegal Lawmakers zero in on Twitter following massive hack MORE (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), as well as ties to acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyFauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds MORE
 
But he's garnered criticism from Republicans who question his conservative credentials and his dismissal of a case involving ObamaCare’s birth control mandate. Ozerden is currently a U.S. district judge in Mississippi. 
 
In a 12-10 GOP-controlled panel, Ozerden will need to pick up support from Democrats in order to get through the Judiciary Committee. No Democrats have said they will support him, though Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Campaign Report: Who will Biden pick to be his running mate? Don't count out Duckworth in Biden VP race Schumer: Trump should want COVID-19 deal to help GOP election chances MORE (D-Ill.) hasn't announced how he will vote. 
 
But in a potential roadblock to picking up support from Democrats, the NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights have both come out against his nomination. 
 
"Judge Ozerden ... has a track record of reflexively dismissing the claims of discrimination victims without letting them have their day in court. He has demonstrated insensitivity to racial justice and LGBTQ equality," the Leadership Conference wrote in a letter last month. 
 
Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said earlier this year that he would support Ozerden's nomination but predicted he wouldn't ultimately be confirmed. 
 
"I don't think the votes are there, no," Kennedy said when asked about opposition from Republicans.
 
GOP leaders view the president’s court picks as their top priority — smashing records for the pace of influential appeals court picks. 
 
But if Ozerden's nomination is withdrawn it wouldn't be the first time GOP opposition has brought down a Trump nominee. 
 
Criticism from GOP senators and conservative outside groups also led Michigan attorney Michael Bogren to ask that his district judge nomination be withdrawn. Two nominees — Ryan Bounds to be a circuit judge and Thomas Farr to be a district judge — withdrew last year after Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottLobbyists see wins, losses in GOP coronavirus bill Revered civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis lies in state in the Capitol GOP plan would boost deduction for business meals MORE (R-S.C.) warned he couldn’t support them because of their writings related to race.