Say NO to Trump's judicial nominees.
Write to Congress now.
During President Obama’s terms, the Senate Republicans rejected his nominees for the federal courts at all levels. Their most egregious action was to ignore Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Republicans refused to even hold hearings to consider Garland’s nomination.
As a result of this program of obstruction, there are now many vacancies throughout the federal court system, and Trump and the Senate Republicans are ready to pack the court with very conservative, right-wing judges. We believe this situation is cause for alarm.
In particular, we are focusing on appointments to the federal appeals courts or circuit courts. Because the U.S. Supreme Court takes relatively few cases, the federal appeals courts are often the last word in federal law. So far Trump and his Senate allies have selected nominees who occupy the far right wing in politics. They are not centrist, nor part of the legal mainstream.
Trump’s nominees have shown indifference, even hostility, towards voting rights, women’s rights, same-sex marriage, consumer protection, disability rights, workers’ rights, and environmental protection. Although the nominees may sport adequate legal credentials, they are undesirable by their legal views. These nominees have the potential to tilt our federal courts sharply towards the radical right, to the harm of the majority of Americans.
At Herd on the Hill, we are monitoring Trump’s nominees for the federal courts. We aim to raise awareness about Trump’s right-wing nominees and to fight against these extremist nominations. We will work to encourage the appointment of well-respected, mainstream judges who will safeguard our rights.
Calls to Action This Week
Click on nominee's name for additional information and a Sample Letter opposing their nomination.
- Write your Senators to vote against David Porter for a lifetime judgeship to the federal appeals court, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. Porter is an extreme right winger who would have been happy to live 100 years ago. As an attorney he has worked against the Affordable Care Act, women’s rights, same sex marriage, environmental protection, and workers’ rights. He has criticized Supreme Court cases that supported FDR’s New Deal (yes, in 1933), and belongs to a conservative think tank that says the minimum wage is unconstitutional. Porter should never be a judge.
- Write your Senators to vote against Mark Norris for a lifetime judgeship to federal trial court. Norris is currently Majority Leader of the Tennessee State Senate. He’s pushed for anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant laws and hinted that being Muslim is the same as being a terrorist. In 2016 Norris led the effort to keep Confederate monuments in public spaces against the wishes of their communities. He’s also an opponent of a woman’s right to choose and same sex marriage.
- Write your Senators to vote against Patrick Wyrick for a lifetime judgeship to federal trial court. Wyrick was a protégé of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, when Pruitt was Oklahoma’s Attorney General. He’s helped Pruitt take down environmental protections and fostered Pruitt’s tight relationship with oil and gas lobbyists. Wyrick has a record of hostility towards health and safety regulations, environmental protection, consumer protection and workers’ rights.
- Write your Senators to vote against John Campbell Barker for a lifetime judgeship to federal trial court. As a state’s attorney in Texas, Barker has worked against immigration rights, women’s reproductive rights, same sex equality and environmental protection. He has defended his state’s voter suppression laws. With only 11 yrs of courtroom experience when the American Bar Association recommends a minimum of 12 yrs for a federal judge, Barker is unqualified.
- Nominations hearing in Senate Judiciary Committee. Check the schedule and watch the video of the most recent hearing here. Nominees are questioned by the Senators on their records and qualifications. Please read The Bum’s Rush For Our Courts to learn what a travesty these hearings have become under Republican leadership.
- Vote by Senate Judiciary Committee (Executive Business Meeting). Check the schedule and watch the video of the most recent meeting here. Nominees are voted out of Committee and go to the Senate floor for a final vote by full Senate.
- Executive Calendar of the Senate. First, the Senate invokes cloture on a nomination. Then within days, there will be a final vote to confirm the nominee.
- Daily Digest of Congressional Record. The latest actions on some nominations will be recorded, although they will be mixed in with other Congressional business.
- We follow the Senate Floor Monitor on Twitter for a blow-by-blow account of what’s happening on the Senate floor.
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Herd on the Hill is a volunteer-run organization in the District of Columbia, with many volunteers who are DC residents with no voting representation in Congress. Our mission is to elevate constituent issues with Congress through hand-delivery of letters, advocacy with congressional staff, and facilitating communication for constituents and progressive organizations with Members of Congress.
NO on David Porter for Federal Judge
Trump has nominated David Porter for a lifetime federal appeals court judgeship, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. Porter’s record fits a far-right conservative on all the major social issues. He is way outside the legal mainstream. Porter has a record
- Against the Affordable Care Act
- Against women’s reproductive rights
- Against the Violence Against Women Act
- Against same-sex marriage and LGBTQ equality
- Against environmental protection
- Against workers’ rights
Back in 2014, David Porter’s name was floated for the same federal appeals court. Porter’s reputation in his own state is so bad that his Senator Casey (D-PA) disapproved his nomination. Activists in his state mobilized against the nomination and the idea was dropped. But Trump has picked up this bad penny again.
Now in 2018, Senator Casey has disapproved Porter’s nomination–again. Activists in his state are working against this nomination–again. It always takes 51 votes in the Senate to stop a nomination, and they need our help.
My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m writing to ask the Senator to vote NO on the nomination of David Porter for a lifetime judgeship on the federal appeals court. Porter has an extremely conservative record and he is outside the legal mainstream. I’m worried that he will be a biased judge against civil rights, women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, environmental protection and workers’ rights. Please vote against Porter’s nomination.
NO on Mark Norris for Federal Judge
On March 18, 2017, Judge Daniel Breen, a federal district court judge in the Western District of Tennessee, assumed senior status. A few months later, on July 13, 2017, President Trump nominated Mark Norris, current Majority Leader of the Tennessee State Senate, to fill the vacancy.
Although, Alliance for Justice does not customarily produce the same extensive research reports on potential district court judges that they produce for circuit court nominees, they have done so in this case because Norris’s record makes him an extreme outlier even among Trump nominees. Based on his record, particularly his tenure as a state senator, it is overwhelmingly clear that Mark Norris should not serve in a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
Norris has spread offensive anti-refugee and anti-Muslim rhetoric, sought to undermine the rights of immigrants in Tennessee, and vigorously fought against LGBTQ equality and the right of women to decide whether to have an abortion. He has undertaken efforts to make it harder for African-American children to receive a quality education, made it more difficult for African-Americans, the elderly, and students to exercise their right to vote, undercut workers’ rights and protections, and made it more difficult to hold corporations accountable when they break the law.
Moreover, Norris regularly dismisses those who disagree with him, a disturbing trait for a potential federal judge. When Muslims in Tennessee raised concerns about the state’s treatment of Muslims, Norris dismissed their concerns, saying “I understand that there are some groups that are paid to foment that kind of unrest.” When Norris led an effort to give election officials the discretion to require proof of citizenship to vote, opponents argued that this would result in “racial profiling.” Again, rather than attempting to address these legitimate concerns, Norris was indifferent, saying “I don’t think the members feel there is a profiling concern here at all.”
Please write your Senators asking that they oppose this unqualified nominee.
My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m writing to ask the Senator to vote No on the nomination of Mark Norris for a federal district court judge. Norris has spread offensive anti-refugee and anti-Muslim rhetoric, vigorously fought against LGBTQ equality and the right of women to decide whether to have an abortion, and made it more difficult for minorities, the elderly, and students to vote. Norris is unqualified to be a judge, and I’m asking you to oppose his nomination.
NO on Patrick Wyrick for Federal Judge
Trump has nominated Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Wyrick, who is just 37 years old and has only practiced law for just over ten years is also on President Trump’s short list for the Supreme Court.
- advocated for restrictions on women’s reproductive health
- helped dismantle protections for workers
- defended a law that attempted to codify religious intolerance toward Muslims
- come under fire for allegedly attempting to mislead the U.S. Supreme Court during his defense of Oklahoma’s death penalty protocol.
As a as a protégé of current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, for whom he worked during Pruitt’s tenure as Oklahoma Attorney General, Wyrick:
- assisted Pruitt in dismantling environmental protections
- was criticized for enabling Pruitt’s tight-knit relationship with oil and gas lobbyists
- provided talking points to Pruitt provided by oil, coal and gas lobbyists against environmental regulations, who repeated those talking points, nearly verbatim, and then later accepted campaign funds from those same special interests
His record indicates that, as a federal judge, he would be a threat to civil rights, the environment, and workers. Please write your Senators to oppose Wyrick's nomination.
My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m writing to ask the Senator to vote NO on the nomination of Patrick Wyrick for a lifetime federal judgeship. Wyrick has a record which indicates that, as a federal judge, he would be a threat to civil rights, the environment, and workers. He is anti-Muslim and also opposes a woman's right to choose abortion. At only 37 years old, and having practiced law for only 10 years, he is unqualified to be a federal judge. Please vote against Wyrick's nomination.
NO on John Campbell Barker for Federal Judge
Trump has nominated John Campbell (“Cam”) Barker to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Since 2015, Barker has served as the Deputy Solicitor General for Texas. In that role, Barker has:
- fought immigrant rights and efforts to protect the environment
- defended Texas’s discriminatory voter ID laws and unconstitutional restrictions on women’s access to an abortion
- defended businesses that discriminate against LGBTQ Americans
- challenged the Affordable Care Act both as a private attorney and in government
Barker also worked on a highly controversial case in which Texas sought to retry a man with an intellectual disability who, after his murder conviction was overturned on appeal, spent 32 years in prison. In addition, Barker defended the state’s efforts to execute an African-American man based, in part, on a psychologist’s testimony that the defendant’s race made him statistically more likely to commit a violent crime.
My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m writing to ask the Senator to vote No on the nomination of John Campbell Barker for a judgeship on the federal district court. Throughout his career, J. Campbell Barker’s advocacy record has shown his troubling dedication to dismantling environmental protections. His aggressive advocacy has shown hostility to the rights of women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, and subverted notions of justice in Texas. For these reasons, I strongly oppose his confirmation to a lifetime seat on the federal bench, and ask you to oppose him as well.
NO on Ryan Bounds for Federal Judge
Ryan Bounds has been nominated by Trump for the influential 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Both of Bounds’ senators from Oregon have refused to return “blue slip” approvals for his nomination. Against Senate tradition, Trump and Senators McConnell and Grassley are forging ahead as if Oregon’s senators don’t matter.
The states should have a say in their federal judges. The “blue slip” tradition allows the nominee’s Senators, often with their state’s bipartisan committee, to say No to a possible federal judge they don’t want in their state. The states should be able to do this regardless of which political party is in power. That’s what the “blue slip” process does when it’s working–it stops a nomination that the state doesn’t want.
Trump and the Republicans are forcing a federal judge on Oregon against the wishes of Oregon’s senators and the state’s bipartisan nominating commission. We oppose Bounds’ nomination for this reason. Please call your U.S. Senators to vote NO on Bounds. Oregon–and every state–should have a say on their federal judges.
Remember, it takes 51 votes to delay or stop a nomination. Oregon activists need the votes of out-of-state Senators to help stop this nomination.
My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m writing to ask the Senator to vote No on the nomination of Ryan Bounds for a lifetime judgeship on the federal appeals court. Bounds doesn’t have the approval of his two Senators or his state’s bipartisan selection committee. A state should have a say in its federal judges. I would want federal judges for our state to be approved by you. I don’t like what’s happening with Bounds’ nomination and I’m asking you to oppose it.
NO on Andrew Oldham for Federal Judge
Andrew Oldham is nominated for a lifetime judgeship on an important federal appeals court. This court is only one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. As counsel to the Governor of Texas, Oldham has a long record of working for very conservative laws and causes. Oldham has:
- Supported voter suppression and advocated for Texas’ voter ID law, which might be the most repressive voter ID law in the country. Opponents say it intentionally discriminates against Latinos and African-Americans.
- Fought against common sense gun safety. Oldham belongs to the NRA.
- Sought to limit a woman’s right to choose.
- Allied with Scott Pruitt to stop efforts against climate change–even before Pruitt went to the EPA.
- Fought against fair housing protections for racial minorities.
- Worked to limit the DACA program.
- Shown extreme hostility to government regulations, even regulations protecting consumers, workers, or public health.
Because of his partisan career, Oldham is unfit to be a judge. Please write your Senators to vote against Andrew Oldham’s nomination to this important federal appeals court.
My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m writing to ask the Senator to vote NO on the nomination of Andrew Oldham to be a judge on the federal appeals court. I’m deeply concerned that Oldham has worked against voting rights, a woman’s right to choose, common sense gun safety, and efforts to stop climate change. At the same time, he has opposed protections for minorities from housing discrimination and the DACA program. I’m worried that he cannot be an impartial or fair judge with this background. Please vote against Oldham’s nomination for this lifetime judgeship.
NO on Wendy Vitter for Federal Judge
Background: Wendy Vitter has been nominated for a lifetime appointment as a judge in the federal district court (Eastern District Court of Louisiana).
- Vitter is a long-time activist in the Right To Life movement. She has taken a leadership role in panels, rallies and other events in opposition to women’s reproductive rights.
- Vitter omitted potentially embarrassing material from her Senate questionnaire, which is supposed to be complete. She did not disclose her role as moderator for a panel called “Abortion Hurts Women’s Health” hosted by Louisiana Right to Life. At this event, she praised a speaker who claimed abortion causes breast cancer, an idea which has been debunked. She promoted a brochure that claims the use of birth control pills leads to extramarital affairs and a higher risk of violent death.
- At her Senate hearing, Vitter wouldn’t agree that the landmark case on civil rights, Brown v. Board of Education, was decided correctly. The Brown case ended segregation in the U.S. in 1954. Vitter’s response has drawn widespread criticism and national news attention from CNN, ABC, CBS, PBS, NPR, and Time.
- Allied with Scott Pruitt to stop efforts against climate change–even before Pruitt went to the EPA.
- Fought against fair housing protections for racial minorities.
- Vitter publicly opposed a resettlement project for Syrian refugees. In contrast, her employer, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, publicly supported the project as a humanitarian effort to help war refugees.
Wendy Vitter has a history of partisanship against a woman’s right to choose and indifference to civil rights. This negative record disqualifies her for a lifelong federal judgeship. She should never be a judge.
Hi, my name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m writing to ask the Senator to vote No on the nomination of Wendy Vitter for a lifetime judgeship on the federal district court. I’m concerned about Ms. Vitter’s history of partisanship against a woman’s right to choose. I’m also troubled that she will not support the landmark civil rights case that ended segregation in the U.S. I’m afraid that Ms. Vitter is likely to be a biased judge who will try to weaken a woman’s right to choose and other civil rights.
NO on Thomas Farr for Federal District Judge
Background: Trump has nominated Thomas Farr to be a judge for federal district court in North Carolina.
Farr’s “claim to fame” is his long legal career against the rights of African-American voters. He has argued in support of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering and an illegal voter ID law which the court said targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.” His record is also consistently anti-worker. Farr has been described as the go-to lawyer for anti-voting rights or anti-worker policies in his home state–the same state for which Trump nominated him to be a judge.
Recently Farr’s nomination came under more scrutiny thanks to Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). Senator Booker has called for the release of a U.S. Dept of Justice memo that may show Farr misled the Senate Judiciary Committee about his role in voter suppression efforts in the 1992 reelection campaign for Senator Jesse Helms. Farr was legal counsel for that campaign and claims no prior knowledge of the attempts at voter suppression.
My name is [name], and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m writing to urge you to vote NO on the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal district court. Farr has spent his career working to disenfranchise voters of color through unconstitutional gerrymandering and illegal voter suppression efforts. His repeated attacks on voting rights make him unfit to serve as a federal judge. Please vote NO on the Farr nomination.
NO on Ryan T. Holte for Federal Judge
Background: Ryan T. Holte has been nominated for a 15-year appointment to the Federal Court of Claims, which handles claims against the U.S. government. Trump has been using this little-known court as a plum assignment for young, unqualified right-wing radicals. The starting salary is $208,000 per year, with generous federal benefits.
Holte is unqualified for this judgeship or any other federal judgeship.
- Holte is 34 years old, with less than 3 years of litigation experience done early in his career. He fails to meet the ABA minimum requirement of 12 years of experience for a federal judge.
- He has never tried a case to completion.
- Currently, an associate law professor and counsel to an engineering firm with a specialty in intellectual property, Holte focuses on private sector disputes, not government infringement cases as done in the Court of Claims.
This seems to be Holte’s main qualification:
- Membership in the Federalist Society and the right-wing Teneo Network, whose connections include a hate group and the Koch brothers, well-known donors to ultraconservative candidates and causes.
My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m writing to ask the Senator to vote NO on the nomination of Ryan T. Holte for a judgeship to the Federal Court of Claims. I believe that Holte is unqualified. He is 34 years old, with less than 3 years of litigation experience. He has never tried a case. Holte is also connected to far right-wing groups, and I find his extreme ideology to be very troubling in a judge. Please vote NO on Holte’s nomination for a federal judgeship.
NO on Britt Grant for Federal Judge
Background: Britt Grant has been nominated by Trump for a lifetime judgeship to the federal appeals court. She has a troubling record of far right wing views. As a lawyer Grant has worked:
- Against women’s reproductive rights and Roe v. Wade
- Against common sense gun safety
- Against voters’ rights
- Against the ACA and federal aid for health insurance
- Against same sex marriage and LGBT equality
- Against the DACA program
- Against environmental protection laws
Grant has only 11 years of courtroom experience when the ABA guidelines give a minimum requirement of 12 years for a federal judge. She is unqualified to be a federal judge.
Last year Grant was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court by Georgia’s Republican Governor. She had no previous experience as a judge whatsoever. Now she is nominated to a federal appeals court that is only one step below the U.S. Supreme Court.
Are the Republicans pushing Grant up the ranks because they know what kind of judge they’re getting? We think so. Grant is 40 years old and nominated for a lifetime federal judgeship. She could be an extremely conservative judge for a very long time.
My name is [name], and I’m a constituent from [zip code]. I’m calling to ask the Senator to vote No on the nomination of Britt Grant for a lifetime judgeship on the federal appeals court. Grant has a troubling record of far right wing views. I’m concerned she will be a biased judge. She also lacks enough courtroom experience under ABA guidelines, and she is unqualified to be a federal judge.
Special thanks to Indivisible East Bay for providing the weekly updated content for this action.