Senate confirms Larsen to federal appeals court

Senate confirms Larsen to federal appeals court

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, who made the short list for the vacant Supreme Court seat now held by Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed to the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

The Senate confirmed Larsen by a vote of 60-38 with the support of eight Democrats: Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperMelania Trump's spokeswoman gets Hatch Act warning for #MAGA tweet EPA to abandon restrictions against chemical linked to climate change Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens MORE (Del.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world MORE (W.Va.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Kavanaugh controversy consumes Washington | Kavanaugh slated to testify Monday | Allegations shake up midterms Florida governor booed out of restaurant over red tide algae issues MORE (Fla.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersLawmakers move to award posthumous Congressional Gold Medal to Aretha Franklin The farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act Bipartisanship alive and well, protecting critical infrastructure MORE (Mich.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowCongress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms Trump attacks Dems on farm bill Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security MORE (Mich.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerRussia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ MORE (Va.).

Outside groups had raised concerns over whether Larsen would be an independent check on the executive branch.

Alliance for Justice pointed to a 2006 guest column in the Detroit News in which she argued that then-President George W. Bush had the authority to disregard a law Congress passed prohibiting the U.S. government from allowing torture.

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“Either way, the president's independent vision of what the Constitution requires is critical,” she wrote. “Denying the president a constitutional voice is the real threat to our system of separated powers."

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein's office says it has received threats over Kavanaugh Dem senator praises Ford opening the door to testifying The chaos in the Kavanaugh nomination illustrates the high stakes of the Supreme Court MORE (D-Calif.) refused to support Larsen’s nomination when the Senate Judiciary Committee took a vote last month. Feinstein said she was concerned that the Judicial Crisis Network had spent $100,000 on ads supporting her nomination.

“When Justice Larsen was given the opportunity to disavow those ads or to publicly state she didn’t want this dark money, outside group working on her behalf, she declined to do so,” Feinstein said.

In a statement Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFord lawyer proposes testifying next Thursday Yale Law School dean responds to reports that Kavanaugh hired women with 'certain look' Kavanaugh tells Senate panel: I want a hearing to 'clear my name' MORE (R-Iowa) called it "outrageous” and “ridiculous” that a minority member would suggest Larsen was responsible for outside groups running ads supporting her nomination.

“I find it interesting that my colleagues who are complaining about conservative groups don’t seem to have much concern for the groups on the left that are spending money in opposition to nominees,” he said.

Grassley singled out the Alliance for Justice, claiming it often makes incendiary and false criticisms of judicial nominees in its reports.

The Judicial Crisis Network praised the Senate for confirming Larsen Wednesday, calling her “an exceedingly well-qualified, accomplished judge."

“Justice Larsen brings with her a sterling background, and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law,” Carrie Severino, the group's chief counsel and policy director, said in a statement. “Hopefully, this is just the beginning of many more confirmations of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE’s excellent judicial nominees.”

Alliance for Justice, meanwhile, called Larsen another “troublesome” judge.

"Joan Larsen's confirmation makes it two down, two to go in Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE's irresponsible race to confirm four circuit court nominees in a single week,” Nan Aron, the group’s president, said in a statement, referring to the Senate majority leader.

"Larsen is probably one of the most troublesome federal judges President Trump has given us, because she believes presidents have the right to ignore the law if they think there's a risk to national security. That kind of power would be terrifying in the hands of Donald Trump."

Larsen’s confirmation comes in the midst of Republican threats to change the Senate rules and shorten the amount of debate time needed to confirm judicial nominees.