Senate Republicans attack circuit court pick over voting rights advocacy

Senate Republicans on Wednesday attacked President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE's nominee for a prestigious appellate court seat over her record as a voting rights activist, taking issue with her advocacy against voting restrictions.

During a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican members criticized Myrna Pérez, a nominee for a seat on the New York-based 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, for her work leading the Brennan Center for Justice's voting rights efforts.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Republican politicians: Let OSHA do its job O'Rourke prepping run for governor in Texas: report MORE (R-Texas) accused her of being a "radical activist" against state voting restrictions imposed by Republican state legislatures around the country.

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"You have waged litigation campaigns and opposed voter ID laws, you have opposed voter integrity laws, you have opposed prohibitions on ballot harvesting, you have advocated for felons being able to vote," Cruz said.

"As I look at your record year after year after year of being an extreme partisan advocate, I'm left with the very likely conclusion that if you were confirmed to the bench, you would likewise be a radical activist on the bench," he added.

As director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights and Elections Program, Pérez has led the group's advocacy and lawsuits against the growing number of voting restrictions around the country.

Her nomination to the powerful 2nd Circuit was applauded by other voting rights advocates and critics of the GOP-led effort to limit ballot access.

Pérez answered the Republican criticism Wednesday by vowing to adhere to the law and Supreme Court precedent, including in areas where she has been an outspoken activist.

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"In the great genius of our Constitution, people play different roles," Pérez said. "Advocates zealously argue on behalf of their clients in as many forms as they can. I have had the privilege and pleasure of doing that."

"Judges take on a different role," she continued. "They are limited in what they have jurisdiction over, they are limited in the cases that come before them, and they are limited to the arguments of what parties put before them, and they are limited to binding precedent. I believe that the most important thing a judge can do, and must do, and is in fact duty-bound to do, is to impartially and objectively apply existing precedent to the facts and the record of the case before them."

But Republicans appeared concerned that she would not be able to set aside her past work in potentially reviewing voting laws like those going into effect in red states around the country.

"You're going to say what you're going to do is basically when it comes to your philosophy of the law, and your philosophy of the governmental structure, you are going to hit the reset button and you will be a neutral and blank slate," Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnHouse Oversight Democrat presses Facebook for 'failure' to protect users Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens MORE (R-Tenn.) said during Wednesday's hearing. "Is that what you're telling us?"

"I will be an impartial and objective adjudicator limited to the subject matter and personal jurisdiction of the case before me and the arguments that the parties have put in front of me," Pérez responded.

The Republican attacks signal that Pérez's confirmation process will likely face stiff partisan opposition.

Senate Republicans have mounted resistance to several of Biden's high-profile nominees, in some cases requiring Democrats to push them through deadlocked Judiciary Committee votes and narrow floor votes, but so far have been unable to torpedo any of the judicial confirmations during the Biden administration.