On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed President Trump’s 40th circuit judge nominee, Kenneth Lee, to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The confirmation came despite objections from California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, who did not return the traditional “blue slip” on Lee.
Throughout the Trump administration, Democrats have repeatedly sought to challenge and prevent his nominees, leading to contentious, high-profile battles such as the case of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment.
From The Hill:
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed a controversial nominee to the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals over the objections of both home-state senators.
Senators voted 52-45 on Kenneth Lee’s nomination to the influential appeals court, giving President Trump his 40th circuit judge since taking office.
Lee’s confirmation came despite neither Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, nor Sen. Kamala Harris(D-Calif.), a 2020 contender, returning a blue slip on his nomination.
The blue-slip rule — a precedent upheld by Senate tradition — has historically allowed a home-state senator to stop a lower-court nominee 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.
Lee is the fifth appeals judge this year to be confirmed without a blue slip returned from both home-state senators. Before 2019, no appeals judge had been confirmed without a blue slip returned from at least one home-state senator.
Feinstein said the vote on Lee marked the first time that the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee’s blue slip has been ignored.
“Lee repeatedly failed to turn over more than 75 controversial writings and submitted many only after we identified them. Lee took controversial positions in these writings on race, civil rights and voting rights. His lack of candor with the committee should concern all senators,” Feinstein wrote in a tweet.
Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) knocked Lee ahead of the vote, saying he is an example of a Trump nominee who wants to “turn the clock backwards.”
“His past writings reveal shocking positions on race and diversity, affirmative action, educational opportunity, women’s reproductive freedom. He once wrote that multiculturalism is a ‘malodorous sickness’ and that sexism … to be ‘irrelevant pouting.’ That’s a man who should be on the bench?” Schumer asked.
Democrats faced long odds for defeating Lee’s nomination. With a 53 seats, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can lose as many as three GOP senators and still confirm a nominee by letting Vice President Pence break a tie.
McConnell views circuit court judges as his top priority and said in 2017 that he didn’t believe opposition from a home-state senator should be enough to effectively veto an appeals court pick.
“In addition to a ‘unanimously well qualified’ rating from the ABA and a favorable report from the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Lee has earned the especially high esteem of one of our own colleagues. The junior Senator from Arkansas attended law school with the nominee,” McConnell said of Lee, referring to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).