The Senate confirmed John K. Bush for a lifetime seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday over protests from Democrats who said he wasn’t fit to be a federal judge.
The Senate voted 51-47 to put him on the federal bench despite criticism from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee of Mr. Bush for having made controversial writings such as, in one particular blog, equating the Supreme Court’s legal rulings on slavery and abortion.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, criticized Mr. Bush’s blog posts, quoting one where Mr. Bush wrote: “The two greatest tragedies in our country — slavery and abortion — relied on similar reasoning and activist judges on the Supreme Court.”
“Never mind that this statement is absurd on its face … what concerns me at this moment is how this is the best statement of his views on the constitutionality of women’s reproductive rights we have heard,” Mr. Blumenthal said.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, called Mr. Bush a “freak.”
Democrats have accused Mr. Bush of promoting the idea that former President Barack Obama had been born in Kenya by linking in a blog to a WorldNetDaily piece that involved a reporter traveling to Kenya to explore the matter. Mr. Obama has repeatedly released documentation showing that he was born in Hawaii.
Mr. Bush denied during his confirmation hearing that he was promoting the “birther” theory.
Nan Aron, president of the progressive Alliance for Justice, said Mr. Bush’s confirmation was “a new low for both the Senate and the federal judiciary.”
“We commend Democratic senators who stood in opposition to this nominee; this whole deal reeks, and we feel for the litigants who will have to face Judge Bush in court someday,” said Ms. Aron.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has praised the Louisville attorney as “a man of integrity and considerable ability.”
“I think we can agree that it is not common for current or former leaders of Planned Parenthood to praise the judicial nominees of Republican presidents,” Mr. McConnell said. “But more than one has praised the president’s nomination of John Bush.”
Mr. Bush takes his seat on the 6th Circuit panel — where he will hear cases from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan — without having received a single Democratic vote.
The Judiciary Committee moved the nomination to the Senate floor last week on a party-line vote. And Thursday’s floor vote also followed party lines, with the 51-47 margin resulting from nonvotes by Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat.
Mr. Bush is the fourth out of the president’s 29 judicial nominees to be confirmed. Mr. Trump’s second judicial nominee, Judge Amul Thapar, also was confirmed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May.
“It is good to see Bush confirmed, but dozens of judicial nominees continue to languish in the Senate, where Senate Democrats continue to obstruct and delay,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.
Republicans say that many of Mr. Trump’s federal court picks are being held up because Democrats haven’t returned blue slips signing off on the nominees. Traditionally, home-state senators return blue slips for nominees from their states if they approve of the pick.
But the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said her party isn’t abusing the blue slip tradition, but is “doing … due diligence in reviewing these nominees.”