- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 21, 2019

President Trump has tapped a California lawyer for a vacancy on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over protests from the state’s Democratic senators, who oppose the man who would become the first Filipino American judge and second openly gay man to serve on a federal circuit court.

Patrick Bumatay was nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year, but California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris said the White House never consulted with them about the nominee. As a result of the initial pushback, the White House instead decided to nominate Mr. Bumatay to a district court seat.

But the pick lingered in the Senate Judiciary Committee for about eight months after neither senator turned in a blue slip, a Senate tradition showing approval of a nominee, for his nomination to the district court. So the president decided to try to elevate him again to the 9th Circuit, officially nominating him Friday.

SEE ALSO: Trump announces two judicial nominees for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

“The Democrats play identity politics and they don’t want President Trump to nominate Patrick Bumatay, a highly qualified judicial nominee, who happens to be Filipino and happens to be gay, to the court of appeals,” said Mike Davis, president of the Article III Project, which backs the president’s judicial nominees.

The president previously tapped Judge Mary M. Rowland, who is openly gay, for the Northern District of Illinois, but Mr. Bumatay could be the president’s first gay nominee elevated to a federal circuit seat.

Mr. Bumatay’s nomination is likely to spark a second confrontation with Ms. Harris and the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Ms. Feinstein.

Ms. Feinstein objected to his nomination in October, saying the lack of consultation with either home state senator “reflects President Trump’s desire to remake the court.”

Ms. Feinstein, though, did not comment on Mr. Bumatay on Friday.

Ms. Harris didn’t mention Mr. Bumatay by name, but she chastised the White House for trying to “push through a flawed nominee.”

“This process is broken. It’s clear Republicans care more about politics and raw power than finding a qualified nominee. We must fight,” she tweeted.

But the 41-year-old assistant U.S. attorney has the backing of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association.

“He would be the first Filipino-American judge to ever serve on a federal appeals court, the second openly LGBT federal circuit court judge, and the second Filipino-American Article III judge in the history of the United States,” the association said in a June letter to the president urging the nomination.

Mr. Bumatay would replace Judge Carlos Bea, who announced this summer he would be taking senior status.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who tracks judicial nominations, said Mr. Bumatay is “well qualified” and likely will be confirmed by the end of the year.

The president also picked Lawrence VanDyke of Nevada for another vacancy on what has been dubbed the country’s most liberal federal appeals court.

Both nominees enjoy support from the president’s conservative base, including from Mr. Trump’s former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who cheered the nomination of Mr. Bumatay.

Patrick’s many fine qualities, including his integrity, intellect and collegiality, make him exceedingly worthy of this position,” Mr. Sessions said. “And his fidelity to the text of the Constitution is exactly what this country needs.”

Meanwhile, Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network, which backs the president’s judicial nominees, said Mr. VanDyke would protect vital interests facing the people living in the 9th Circuit. The court hears appeals from Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, California, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii.

“With deep roots in the West, Lawrence is very familiar with the challenges faced by states in the 9th Circuit, and, as solicitor general for Montana and Nevada, he was on the front lines of the legal challenges to the overreach by the Obama administration and its job-killing [Environmental Protection Agency],” Ms. Severino said.

Before Mr. Trump took office, the appeals court had 16 Democrat-appointed active judges, compared to five appointed by Republicans. Since then, the breakdown has changed to 12 GOP-appointed.

If both men are confirmed, the president would have placed nine judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit.

⦁ Valerie Richardson contributed to this report.

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