California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris lashed out at the White House after President Trump, under pressure from conservative activists, re-nominated two conservative California judges to the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court over their opposition.
“We are deeply disappointed that the White House has chosen to re-nominate Daniel Collins and Kenneth Lee to the Ninth Circuit,” Feinstein and Harris said in a joint statement late Wednesday. “We made clear our opposition to these individuals and told the White House we wanted to work together to come to consensus on a new package of nominees.”
The White House announced the nomination of Collins and Lee, among other judicial nominations. Daniel A. Bress was also nominated to the Ninth Circuit.
The nomination of Collins and Lee bypasses the traditional "blue-slip" process in which the senators of the home state of the nominee give their consent to the pick. Feinstein and Harris said they had hoped to “work together to come to consensus on a new package of nominees” instead of President Trump nominating Collins and Lee.
Last week, the White House had announced the re-nomination of 51 federal judicial nominees left over from the previous Congress, kickstarting the administration's effort to install more conservative judges after GOP activists worried that such appointments had stalled.
Collins and Lee, however, were not initially nominated again, because of negotiations between the White House and Harris and Feinstein. They were first nominated in October.
Conservative activists protested those negotiations, though, as the Wall Street Journal editorial board drew attention to the situation and argued that both Feinstein and Harris “were two of the worst mudslingers on the Judiciary Committee that smeared Brett Kavanaugh.”
“Why on earth would the WH agree to tarnish its sterling legacy of circuit court judges & abandon the opportunity to improve the notorious 9th Cir to help Sens (and a would-be POTUS challenger) who are shafting him every chance they get?” tweeted Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network.
Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state, had said the White House’s failure to re-nominate the judges was “hugely demoralizing.”
“No deals with Senate liberals,” Blackwell wrote on Facebook.
The liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, with a sprawling purview representing nine Western states, has long been a thorn in the side of the Trump White House, with rulings against the travel ban and limits on funding to "sanctuary cities."
On Thursday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised Trump's nomination of Collins, Lee and Bress.
“I’m very supportive of the nominees submitted by President Trump to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. These are highly qualified nominees and I am hopeful they will receive wide bipartisan support,” Graham said. “These nominations continue a trend by the Trump Administration of selecting highly qualified men and women to serve on the federal bench.”
Fox News’ Jason Donner and Gregg Re contributed to this report.