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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

Updated 6/12/18  

Click on nominee's name for additional information and a Sample Letter opposing their nomination.

  1. Write your Senators to vote against Britt Grant for a lifetime judgeship to the federal appeals court, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. She has a troubling record of far right wing views. As a lawyer Grant has worked against a woman’s right to choose, common sense gun safety, voters’ rights, the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage, and environmental protection. Also, Grant has only 11 years of courtroom experience when ABA guidelines recommend a minimum of 12 years for a federal judge. She is unqualified for this judgeship.
  2. Write your Senators to vote against Thomas Farr for a federal district court judgeship. Farr has made his career working to disenfranchise voters of color through unconstitutional gerrymandering and illegal voter suppression efforts. The district where he’s nominated to be a judge–It’s at least 25% African-American. Farr’s repeated attacks on voting rights make him unfit to serve as a federal judge.
  3. Write your Senators to vote against the nomination of Ryan Bounds for a judgeship on the important 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Bounds is a conservative and a leader in his local Federalist Society, with an undistinguished career as a prosecutor. But Trump and McConnell want him to be a judge on an influential and liberal-leaning federal appeals court. His two Democratic Senators disapprove of his nomination. His state’s bipartisan selection commission disapproves. We say No too.
  4. Write your Senators to vote against the nomination of Andrew Oldham for an important federal appeals court judgeship. Oldham has helped the Governor of Texas implement a repressive voter ID law that discriminates against racial minorities. He shouldn’t be a judge.

Resources:

  • 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.
  • 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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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.

Sample Letter:

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 call your Senators to vote against Andrew Oldham’s nomination to this important federal appeals court.


Sample Letter:

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.


Sample Letter:

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.


Sample Letter:

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.


Sample Letter:

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.


Sample Letter:

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.

Acknowledgement

Special thanks to Indivisible East Bay for providing the weekly updated content for this action.

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