Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition

Greg Nash
President Trump’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. 
{mosads}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 Graham (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 Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Mo.). Two other GOP senators, Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.), haven’t yet announced how they’ll vote on Ozerden. 
Ozerden has the backing of his two home-state senators, Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), as well as ties to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. 

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 Durbin (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 Kennedy (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 Scott (R-S.C.) warned he couldn’t support them because of their writings related to race.
Tags Ben Sasse Dick Durbin Donald Trump John Kennedy Josh Hawley Lindsey Graham Marsha Blackburn Mick Mulvaney Roger Wicker Ted Cruz Tim Scott
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