Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden and other Senate Democrats spent three hours Tuesday night protesting the Republican Party’s approach to confirming federal judges — and one Oregon lawyer’s nomination in particular.
They’re objecting to the nomination of Ryan Bounds to serve on the influential 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and, more broadly, to what they describe as GOP efforts to pack federal courts with extremist jurists.
The Senate has traditionally not proceeded with judicial nominations without the support of a potential judge’s home state senators. But Senate Republicans have pushed ahead with Bounds’ nomination despite Wyden and Merkley’s concerns.
“This deed of putting forward this nomination on this floor tonight changes 100-year tradition of comity in the U.S. Senate, and a recognition that the home state senators have something important to say about the integrity of the individual being put forward,” Merkley said as the unusually long session kicked off.
The Oregon senators say they weren’t adequately consulted about the Bounds nomination and that the White House pushed the nomination through quickly despite their requests to slow down. And they have raised questions about inflammatory writing Bounds, an assistant U.S. attorney, did while in college at Stanford University and whether Bounds was upfront about those writings later.
Other Senators objected to how Senate Republicans have handled other nominations and to the role groups such as the Federalist Society have played in coming up with lists of potential nominees for the Trump administration.
It’s unlikely Senate Democrats can block Bounds’ nomination, but they hope to slow it as a form of protest.
“The debate over Ryan Bounds is not a typical debate over a typical nomination,” Wyden said. “It is vital the Senate look at this nomination in a broader context, particularly as it relates to what I call the decline of principled bipartisanship here in the Senate.”