The Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday despite objections from both home-state senators.
Senators split in a 53-45 vote along party lines to confirm Daniel Bress as a judge to the San Francisco-based appeals court. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), both of whom are running for president, didn’t vote.
Republicans have come under fierce scrutiny for moving Bress’s nomination even though neither Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) nor Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) returned a blue slip on his nomination.
«I’m very disappointed that Republican leadership decided to schedule a vote on Mr. Bress’s nomination given both of our objections to his nomination and our concerns about a lack of connection to our state,» Feinstein said ahead of Tuesday’s vote to confirm Bress. In addition the blue-slip fight, Feinstein raised concerns that Bress doesn’t have sufficient ties to California to be appointed to one of the state’s seats on the 9th Circuit.
Harris, in a tweet after the vote, called Bress’s confirmation a «degradation of Senate institutional norms at the hands of Republican leaders.»
The blue-slip rule — a precedent upheld by Senate tradition — has historically allowed a home-state senator to stop a lower court nominee from being confirmed by refusing to return the blue slip to the Judiciary Committee. How strictly the precedent is upheld is decided by the committee chairman, and enforcement has varied depending on who wields the gavel.
But Republicans argue that the blue slip, a sheet of paper that indicates whether a senator supports a nominee, shouldn’t be allowed to blackball an appeals court pick because circuits cover multiple states.
Bress is the 42nd Trump circuit court nominee confirmed by the Senate since 2017, as Republicans have set a record pace for sending picks to the influential courts.
He’s also one of several nominations Republicans have moved despite objections from both home-state senators, including confirming Daniel Collins and Kenneth Lee to California seats on the 9th Circuit.
Neither Feinstein nor Harris supported any of their nominations to the 9th Circuit.
Republicans praised Trump’s pick for the court, which has been a perennial source of annoyance for conservatives who view it as too liberal and too large.
«Mr. Bress comes with strong credentials: the academic pedigree, the legal experience and most importantly a demonstrated commitment to the rule of law,» Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, defending Bress ahead of the vote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called Bress a «fine man,» adding that he’s «very pleased that the United States Senate has confirmed Daniel Bress to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.»