Skip Navigation
Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


Opinion Type


Items 1 - 30 of 51  12Next

Trump’s Anti-Environment Judicial Nominees Could Lead to Polluted Air and Water (Center for American Progress, 07/27/17)
Billy Corriher: The president has recently nominated two young lawyers—both under 40 years old—with a history of working for groups tied to the Koch brothers and other polluters to 15-year terms on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The first nominee, Damien Schiff, is a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a group that often sues the federal government when the government seeks to enforce environmental laws. Like another recently confirmed judicial nominee, Schiff has a history of writing blog posts that denigrate LGBT people and even Supreme Court justices. A few months ago, he wrote that Earth Day is “a threat to individual liberty and property rights.” Schiff once said that the EPA treats American citizens like “slaves” during an interview on CNN.... The nominations of Schwartz and Schiff are in line with the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda.... If they are confirmed, Schwartz and Schiff could make it easier for oil companies and other corporations to sue the EPA or other government agencies for compensation when regulations cost them money.

The one area where Trump has been wildly successful (Washington Post, 07/20/17)
Ronald A. Klain: while President Trump is incompetent at countless aspects of his job, he is proving wildly successful in one respect: naming youthful conservative nominees to the federal bench in record-setting numbers.... Trump’s picks are astoundingly young.... How conservative are Trump’s picks? Dubbed “polemicists in robes” in a headline on a piece by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, Trump’s nominees are strikingly . . . Trumpian. One Trump nominee blogged that Kennedy was a “judicial prostitute” for trying to find a middle ground on the court, and said that he “strongly disagree[d]” with the court’s decision striking down prosecution of gay people under sodomy laws. Another equated the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, upholding a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, to the court’s 19th-century Dred Scott finding that black people could not be U.S. citizens. Another advocated an Alabama law that denied counsel to death-row inmates.... Republican leaders are threatening to curtail “blue slip” rights that allow senators to block unacceptable home-state nominees; Trump is nominating candidates before they are reviewed by the American Bar Association; Judiciary Committee Republicans are arguing that nominees’ writings, legal representations and public statements are irrelevant to confirmation. Democrats should oppose these changes in the process .... Second, Democrats need to overcome their historic unease about working closely with progressive legal groups.

The Senate Just Confirmed an Anti-Gay Blogger to the Federal Judiciary (, 07/20/17)
Mark Joseph Stern: The Trump administration’s assault on LGBTQ rights scored a major victory on Thursday when the Senate confirmed John K. Bush to the powerful 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Bush, perhaps Trump’s most controversial nominee to the lower courts, has a long history of making homophobic and sexist comments during his years as an anonymous blogger. Yet every Republican senator (except the absent John McCain) voted to confirm him. ... Bush’s record overflows with offensive, archaic, and bizarre comments, many directed toward women and sexual minorities.... In the coming days, the Senate will also vote on Damien Schiff’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which considers environmental and regulatory lawsuits. Schiff has written that the Constitution does not bar states from criminalizing homosexuality. He also declared in 2009 that a California law prohibiting bullying wrongly taught “that the homosexual lifestyle is a good, and that homosexual families are the moral equivalent of traditional heterosexual families.” His article was entitled “Teaching ‘Gayness’ in Public Schools.”

Anti-LGBTQ Judicial Nominees: Too Biased for the Bench (Medium, 07/20/17)
Harper Jean Tobin: Unfortunately, Bush is no outlier. President Trump’s pick for a seat in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Damien Schiff, has a record that demonstrates, in the words of a letter joined by NCTE and other LGBT advocates, “plain contempt for the rights of LGBT Americans.” Further, Schiff has flat-out denied the legitimacy of Title IX, a critical federal law that guarantees equal treatment for trans students. The shameless bias that Schiff, Bush, and other nominees freely espouse is simply unacceptable for judicial nominees, for our federal bench, and for our entire system of justice.... Another nominee for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Stephen S. Schwartz, ... helped craft arguments that federal laws offer no protection to trans people. While a lawyer’s choice of client is not, in itself, generally considered a valid ground for criticizing nominees, Schwartz’s involvement in making far-reaching legal arguments in these high-profile cases should prompt close scrutiny of his own views and possible biases.

Every LGBTQ Rights Group You’ve Ever Heard Of Opposes Two Of Trump’s Judicial Picks: John Bush and Damien Schiff “would cause grave harm” to LGBTQ people and women, reads a new letter to senators. (Huffington Post, 07/17/17)
Jennifer Bendery: A whopping 27 LGBTQ rights groups on Monday urged the Senate to reject two of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, John Bush and Damien Schiff. In a letter to all senators, groups including Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign say both nominees’ views on civil rights “are fundamentally at odds with the notion that LGBT people are entitled to equality, liberty, justice and dignity under the law.”

We all expect better than these 2 Trump judicial nominations (Bangor Daily News [ME], 07/16/17)
Opinion by Mary L. Bonauto: the U.S. Senate will vote on whether to confirm John K. Bush and Damien Schiff to the federal bench. Neither man comes close to these standards, and through speeches, blogging and past legal activities, both have demonstrated hostility toward entire groups of people. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King should lead the votes against their confirmation and send the message that we all expect better in judicial nominations. Bush has a long history of offensive actions and writings that exhibit stereotyped thinking and hostility toward women and LGBTQ Americans.... Similarly, Schiff’s blogging and legal career demonstrate that he lacks judicially qualifying characteristics as well, epitomized by his reference to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as a “judicial prostitute.” ... It is time to send a message that we Americans want qualified judges who will give everyone a chance based on the facts and the law. One of those vacancies is here in Maine

John Bush and Damien Schiff are Unfit to Serve as Impartial Federal Judges: Our tweeting president wants these two bloggers to serve on the federal bench. Their writings show they’re both too extreme. (Medium, 07/12/17)
Mike Zubrensky: the Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to debate and vote on two of the most demonstrably provocative federal judicial nominees in a generation: John Bush and Damien Schiff. And our Constitution’s system of checks and balances is at stake. The question for the 20 senators who serve on the committee is whether the clearly expressed views of judicial nominees matter at all in their consideration to be federal judges.... The written records of these two judicial nominees are simply stunning.... the Trump White House likely did not know about Schiff’s surreptitious writings until after he was nominated. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also likely did not know about Bush’s troubling writings at the time he recommended him to the White House.... we will learn if 20 senators on both sides of the aisle are comfortable with anonymous bloggers who have clearly demonstrated that they are unfit to serve as impartial federal judges. The Leadership Conference urges senators to reject these two nominees.

Check President Trump (Medium, 07/12/17)
Desiree Tims, League of Conservation Voters: This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to confirm or deny toxic nominees, John K. Bush and Damien Schiff. ... Some of the 22 judicial nominees for lower courts have egregious views regarding clean air, water, and common sense public health safeguards. This is especially true of Damien Schiff, who Trump nominated to serve on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ... Schiff stated that “[the] problem with the [EPA] across the board [is] treating American citizens as if the[y] were not American citizens, [but] as if they were [sic] slaves.”

One of the Biggest Reasons Republicans Stick by Trump: They blocked Obama’s court nominees for years. Now they’re filling those seats, starting a huge shift rightward for the judiciary. (Bloomberg News, 07/10/17)
By Paul Barrett and David Ingold: this congressional pocket veto of Garland, a 64-year-old moderate and chief of the influential U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, was simply the most public manifestation of a longer-term strategy. After gaining control of the Senate in 2015, Republicans made it their mission to slow-walk Obama’s nominations for the lower courts. This effort contributed to the relatively large backlog of 107 vacancies on trial and intermediate-appellate courts that Trump inherited.... Two White House choices that have infuriated Democrats and could make moderate Republicans queasy are John Bush and Damien Schiff. Both men, who are scheduled for a vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee as soon as next week, have come under fire for hard-right views they’ve expressed as prolific bloggers.

Trump Nominee Damien Schiff Proves He's Unqualified to be a Judge (People For blog, 07/06/17)
Paul Gordon: Damien Schiff, President Trump’s nominee to the Court of Federal Claims … when he was nominated, it was clear from his long and troubling record that the Judiciary Committee should reject Schiff’s nomination. His recently submitted responses to committee members’ written questions for the record (“QFRs”) provide new reasons that he should not be confirmed. On issue after issue, Schiff rebuffs questions that were prompted by his own writings and statements, including in his confirmation hearing.

Op-Ed: Trump’s Supreme Court pick could have negative trickle-down effects (QNS [Queens, NY], 07/06/17)
State Senator James Sanders, Jr.: Since the Senate blocked hundreds of President Obama’s qualified lower court nominees, Republicans now get to pick many of these judges.... Three of them, Kevin Newsom in Alabama, John Bush in Kentucky, and Damien Schiff in the Court of Claims (a national court that hears cases against the government itself), have gone on the record with very rich takes on history. Newsom and Bush say that Roe v Wade is just like Dred Scott. How so? They are both examples of the courts going too far. To quote Bush: “slavery and abortion are the two greatest tragedies in our country.” Meanwhile, Schiff has gone on the record to compare affirmative action programs at universities to, you guessed it, Dred Scott. He has also criticized schools that teach children that homosexual people have the same sense of right and wrong as heterosexual people.

Why Trump Nominees John Bush and Damien Schiff Are Unfit to Be Judges (National Women's Law Center blog, 07/06/17)
Amy K. Matsui: Two individuals that President Trump has nominated to the federal bench have said some shocking, intemperate, inappropriate things on blogs (in addition to making problematic statements in legal articles and briefs).

THE LONG GAME: Court Stops Trump & Pruitt From Trashing the Planet—for Now: The latest D.C. Circuit Court decision to halt environmental protection rollbacks shows why Trump’s extreme-right judicial nominees are dangerous in the long run.  (Daily Beast, 07/06/17)
Jay Michaelson: the important role that the courts have played in slowing Trump’s actions on immigration, security, and environmental regulations points to the importance of the federal judiciary generally—and to the extreme candidates that Trump has nominated so far. Trump has continued to draw heavily from the wishlist prepared by the Heritage Foundation, tacking hard right from the judicial mainstream.... Trump has gone beyond previously accepted limits, nominating to one appellate court John Bush, a birther who used a pseudonym to blog wingnut-like rants about President Obama, and to another Damien Schiff, who called Justice Anthony Kennedy “a judicial prostitute.” (Schiff has apologized.) And because of unprecedented obstructionism in the previous congress, Trump now faces a record-high number of vacancies and expected vacancies in the federal judiciary: 38 percent over the next four years. … voters should care. As we’ve seen in the last six months, the independent judiciary may be democracy’s last line of defense.

The Most Important Question for Trump Judicial Nominees: How much executive authority do they think the president has? (, 07/05/17)
Peter M. Shane: Donald Trump’s outsourcing the selection of federal appellate judges, including Supreme Court Justice Neil A. Gorsuch, to the Federalist Society. ... Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, a nominee to the 6thCircuit, wrote approvingly of a President George W. Bush “signing statement” in which Bush indicated he was not necessarily bound by the anti-torture provisions of a 2005 emergency appropriations act…. there are also some nominees who should be deemed utterly disqualified for lack of judicial temperament and explicit hostility to constitutional rights. Damien M. Schiff, a senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation and nominee for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, has called Justice Anthony Kennedy “a judicial prostitute.” Writing under the pseudonym G. Morris, attorney John K. Bush, a nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6thCircuit, has written inflammatory and demeaning anti-LGBTQ blog posts for an ultraconservative website run by his wife.

We weren’t fooled by Gorsuch, and we aren’t fooled by his clones (Medium, 06/28/17)
Lambda Legal Fair Courts Project Fellow Yuvraj Joshi: Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch confirmed this past Monday that he is everything we warned he’d be — opposing equal rights for same-sex couples and eroding the separation between church and state. Now, Donald Trump is trying to stack the federal courts with far-right Gorsuch clones. Two of them — John K. Bush and Damien Schiff — are soon to be voted on by the Senate.... Like Gorsuch, Bush and Schiff have anti-LGBT records.... We weren’t fooled then, and we aren’t fooled now. That’s why we are opposing the nominations of John K. Bush and Damien Schiff.

3 Things You Don’t Know that Democrats Are Thinking About (Blog for Arizona, 06/25/17)
Larry Bodine: Justice Kennedy may step down on Monday and there is no worse time for this to happen. It would open the door up for nominees like Robert Bork, racist Kentucky lawyer John Bush (who equated slavery with abortion) or would-be federal judge Damien Schiff, who says anti-bullying laws are “teaching ‘gayness.'”

Trump reshapes the lower federal courts with little progressive scrutiny (The Hill, 06/23/17)
Jonathan R. Nash: While the Court of Federal Claims, and nominees to it, generally attract little attention, Trump’s two nominees to the court thus far suggest an effort to increase the likely success of Takings claims against the government and thus to augment the protection of private property rights against government infringement. Last month, the president nominated Damien Schiff, who has been serving as a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a self-described national conservative/libertarian public interest law firm that has argued in favor of a broad understanding of compensable Takings. The president’s new nominee to the court, Stephen Schwartz, has similar experience. Before entering private practice, Mr. Schwartz served as counsel to Cause of Action, a public interest law firm that professes its “advoca[cy] for economic freedom and individual opportunity advanced by honest, accountable, and limited government.”

The terrifying and terrible prospect of Justice Kennedy retiring (Washington Post, 06/23/17)
Ruth Marcus, Columnist: Kennedy’s retirement would unleash nomination Armageddon ... Justice Kennedy, perhaps it is unfair to pile all this onto your shoulders, but is it really wise to subject an already divided country to even more turbulence? And to another nomination by this president, with his evident ignorance of the role of the judiciary and disdain for judicial independence?... consider, too, the Trump appellate court nominees who came before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month. One, Kentucky lawyer John Bush, nominated to the 6th Circuit, posted pseudonymous writings on a political blog that touched on President Barack Obama’s Kenyan heritage, referred to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as “Mama Pelosi” and suggested that someone should “gag the House speaker.” In another post, Bush described slavery and abortion as “the two greatest tragedies in our country” and said they “relied on similar reasoning and activist justices at the U.S. Supreme Court, first in the Dred Scott decision, and later in Roe.”...Another nominee, Damien Schiff, nominated to the Court of Federal Claims, used a different blog to denounce anti-bullying efforts for “teaching ‘gayness’ in public schools,” and to criticize the court’s ruling in Lawrence v. Texas — that’s your ruling, Justice Kennedy — striking down state laws criminalizing homosexual sodomy. Oh, and also, to observe that “it would seem that Justice Kennedy is (and please excuse the language) a judicial prostitute, ‘selling’ his vote as it were to four other justices in exchange for the high that comes from aggrandizement of power and influence, and the blandishments of the fawning media and legal academy.” Justice Kennedy, does the president who chose this man really deserve to name your replacement?

Donald Trump Is In The Perfect Position To Dramatically Remake The Courts: With 100+ judicial vacancies and a Senate eager to fill them, conservatives are salivating. (Huffington Post, 06/22/17)
By Jennifer Bendery, Alissa Scheller: the main reason is Republicans’ years-long strategy of denying votes to Obama’s court picks. They refused to recommend judicial nominees, filibustered others, used procedural rules to drag out the confirmation process and, by Obama’s final year, blocked nominees they had recommended just to prevent him from filling more seats.... Trump nominated [John] Bush, 52, last month to a lifetime post on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Progressive groups are vowing to fight his confirmation given some of his past remarks, which include comparing abortion to slavery and referring to them as “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” Bush has also said he strongly disagrees with same-sex marriage, mocked climate change and proclaimed “the witch is dead” when he thought the Affordable Care Act might not be enacted. Damien Schiff, also a member of The Federalist Society, is Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. ... He came under fire for calling Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy “a judicial prostitute” on a blog several years ago. He has also criticized efforts to prevent bullying of LGBTQ students, referring to messages of equality as “teaching ‘gayness’ in schools,” and has argued that states should be allowed to criminalize “consensual sodomy.”... Blue slips are more of a committee tradition than a hard rule, but chairmen typically uphold it. Grassley’s predecessor, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), stuck by the practice for years when he was chairman ― even when Republicans routinely abused it to block Obama’s nominees. He suspects Grassley will abide by the tradition, too. “Sen. Grassley made it very clear that he appreciated what I did when there was a Republican president and Democratic president, applying the blue slips,” Leahy told HuffPost. “He told me he was going to follow the same procedures as chairman. And I take him at his word,” he added. “I’ve known him for over 30 years. He’s never broken his word to me.”

Trump’s Finally Filling the Judicial Back Bench with Some Questionable Rookies: Some of his nominees run into trouble with their snarky blogs. Remember kids that stuff you write online never really goes away. (Moyers & Company, 06/21/17)
"President Trump has a great opportunity to determine the character of the federal bench. Because the Senate only confirmed 20 of Obama’s nominees during his last two years in office, (less than a third of the number confirmed during the last two years of Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush) he has a slew of vacancies to fill.... John Bush, a 52-year-old 6th Circuit nominee from Kentucky, and Damien Schiff, a 37-year-old nominee for the US Court of Federal Claims from California, made headlines when they were quizzed about their social media presences. What the president is to Twitter — these guys are to blogging in the Senate. Slate‘s Dahlia Lithwick lays out the questionable posts in detail: ... But the real drama lies in the Q and A of the hearings. NPR’s Nina Totenberg has a fuller rundown"

Trump’s first judicial nominees: a right-wing blogger, an anti-gay lawyer, and two Obama holdovers (Quartz, 06/21/17)
Lola Fadulu: Many of these seats are vacant because the Republican-controlled Senate refused for several years to start the nomination process for president Barack Obama’s nominees, often after state senators vetoed the candidates. ... Civil rights advocates say some of Trump’s early nominees are troubling because they lack diversity, both racially and professionally. ... John Kenneth Bush is Trump’s nominee for the Sixth Circuit.... While blogging, he consistently cited WorldNetDaily, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed an extremist group for peddling conspiracy theories and white nationalism, including the lie that Obama was not born in the United States.... Damien Schiff, Trump’s nominee for the US Court of Federal Claims, called Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute” in a post. Schiff also strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which ended punishment for sodomy. And he criticized a school district for teaching students that homosexual families and heterosexual families are equally moral.... Trump’s nominees include two Obama nominees, David C. Nye and Scott L. Palk, whose appointments expired

Trump’s Most Lasting Legacy? America’s courts—presently a thorn in the president’s side—are about to get a lot more conserve ative. And they will probably stay that way for a very long time. (Atlantic, 06/21/17)
Alex Wagner: John Bush, a nominee to the 6th Circuit federal appeals court and Damien Schiff, a nominee for the federal Court of Claims.... are two of President Trump’s thus far 21 picks for the nearly 130 vacancies on the federal bench, an excess of open slots that exist mostly because of unprecedented Republican resistance to the confirmation of President Obama’s judicial nominees. ... Given the extraordinary power of the courts today—especially as a check on the legislative and executive branches—a judicial branch populated with men like Bush and Schiff could mightily shift the political landscape of the United States, well after Trump has left office. Both Schiff and Bush arrived at their hearings carrying excess baggage in the form of controversial writing. Bush, a corporate lawyer, had previously .... cited, by way of a source, World Net Daily — a website that the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes as “devoted to manipulative fear-mongering and outright fabrications designed to further … paranoid, gay-hating, conspiratorial and apocalyptic visions.”... Schiff’s most notable post was the one in which he labeled Justice Anthony Kennedy “a judicial prostitute”... the relatively young age of his stable could cement in place a conservative judiciary for decades to come.

Edit Memo: Trump’s Judges: This is Not Normal (People For blog, 06/20/17)
Paul Gordon: The nominations of John K. Bush and Damien Schiff are truly bizarre, and their confirmation would spread the decay of our democratic norms into the judicial branch, the most important bulwark we have against Trump’s overreaching and corruption. Both men have records so atrocious that it’s amazing they could even be considered for the federal bench. PFAW has explained why the Judiciary Committee should reject Damien Schiff’s nomination to the Court of Federal Claims and why John K. Bush should not be confirmed to the 6th Circuit. Here is a quick summary ... In any other administration, these men would never have made it through the vetting the process. And in any other time, even if they somehow were nominated, they would face unanimous opposition from the Judiciary Committee.

Despite its other failures, GOP poised to move courts to the right (Maddow Blog {MSNBC], 06/19/17)
Steve Benen: Many conservatives who recognized Trump’s profound flaws last year voted for him anyway because they wanted to move the judiciary to the far-right, and they knew a Republican White House and a Republican Senate could deliver, filling vacancies McConnell created by blocking Obama-era nominees.... they’re embracing jurists who are ridiculous even by 2017 standards. Indeed, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick had a striking piece the other day, explaining that the White House and Senate Republicans are advancing “polemicists and bomb-throwers, performance artist lawyers who have spent their intellectual lives staking out absurd and often abhorrent legal positions.” In a 2007 post on his personal blog, [37-year-old Damien Schiff, a nominee for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims] wrote, “It would seem that Justice [Anthony] Kennedy is (and please excuse the language) a judicial prostitute, '" ... John Bush, a 6th Circuit nominee from Kentucky, is in some ways worse. ThinkProgress noted last week that the conservative jurist used his blogging platform to highlight, among other things, content from WorldNetDaily, a fringe conspiracy theory website.

Another day in Trumplandia: A fake-news blogger is tapped for the federal bench (Newsworks , 06/16/17)
NATIONAL INTEREST A BLOG BY DICK POLMAN: the two bomb-throwing bloggers who appeared Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Yup, bloggers. In their day jobs, John Bush and Damien Schiff are attorneys; in their off hours, they've indulged their incendiary ids and told people what they really think. ...Schiff, who works for a conservative legal foundation and has been tapped for a seat on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, once wrote in a post that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is "a judicial prostitute," .... Schiff and Bush both insisted that whatever they've blogged in the past would in no way influence their thinking on the federal bench — a fascinating argument, because it basically suggests that the donning of black robes would magically cleanse their minds of all their gut beliefs. It also implies that confirmation hearings are a waste of time, that senators should ignore a nominee's track record .... given the fact that John Bush, a Kentucky lawyer tapped for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals, had repeatedly written blogs that drew material from fake news websites ... well, Franken didn't think that was very good judgment.... he can't explain whether or to what extent he judged the "news" sources to be fake or true. Thanks to Franken's questions, it would appear that Bush gave us a glimpse of his true self.

Trump Is Appointing Racist Fake News Purveyors to the Federal Bench: A radical transformation of the judiciary is underway.  (Nation, 06/16/17)
George Zornick: this week featured some remarkable moments as Democrats pressed several appointees of President Donald Trump on their exceptionally radical views. Trump nominated John K. Bush, a lawyer from Louisville, to serve on the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. ... he frequently espoused phony stories from paranoid right-wing internet corners, including those that advanced the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. He often quoted stories from WorldNetDaily.... Damien Schiff, Trump’s nominee for the US Court of Federal Claims, also ran a blog ... he called Justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute.” ... This was too much for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who made it clear he thinks Schiff was nominated because of his far-right views, particularly on the rights of corporations, ... Trump is rapidly filling up the federal bench, which is relatively barren thanks to eight years of Republican obstruction in the Senate. ... And the records of his nominees are unprecedented. Kristine Lucius worked for fourteen years as a top legal and policy adviser to former Senate Judiciary Chairman and ranking member Patrick Leahy. She is now an executive vice president at the Leadership Conference, and told The Nation she was shocked by the Schiff and Bush nominations. “I’ve literally worked on hundreds of judicial nomination hearings, and I have never seen one with records like this,” she said. “I have found it stunning that two individuals with this kind of controversial written record made it through the vetting process.”

5 Things You Should Know About Trump’s Court of Federal Claims Nominee (National Women's Law Center blog, 06/16/17)
Jillian Edmonds: He once described Justice Anthony Kennedy as a “judicial prostitute.”... He has said that Title IX should not apply to high school sports, despite decades of policy and precedent.

The Most Important Senate Hearing You Didn’t Hear Anything About This Week: It’s always a bad sign when a judicial nominee has to begin his hearing with an apology. (Huffington Post, 06/15/17)
Sammie Moshenberg: Kevin Newsom appeared thanks to the fact that Alabama senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby refused to return their blue slips, signing off on President Obama’s nominee, Judge Abdul Kallon who would have been the first African-American to sit on the 11th Circuit from Alabama.... John K. Bush attracted most of what questions could be squeezed in during the single round of five-minutes per senator.... Sen. Franken hammered Bush on his reliance on racist fake-news sources. Bush refused to answer why he used such a widely discredited source. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), one of the more conservative committee members, humphed that he was not “impressed” by his blogs.... Damien Schiff from the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) got his turn.... Schiff had called Justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute,” a remark that was universally decried and certainly raised the question about his legal temperament. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) observed that if an Obama nominee had insulted Justice Kennedy that way, “the other side’s hair would be on fire!” A staff attorney at the Koch Brothers-funded Pacific Legal Foundation which is devoted to undoing the ‘regulatory state’ established by the New Deal, Schiff shares the PLF’s animosity towards environmentalists, the EPA, OSHA, labor unions, and any campaign finance laws (a partial list).... Senator Franken was openly incredulous at Schiff’s piece “Teaching Gayness in Public Schools” which excoriates anti-bullying curricula.

Senate should hold court nominees to a high standard (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 06/15/17)
Doug Clark: yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for a couple of court nominees. It was extraordinary, according to reporting by NPR, Politico and Alliance for Justice. Senators of both parties seemed dismayed by past statements or writings of John Bush and Damien Schiff, both nominated by Trump. Schiff, nominated for a seat on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, once referred to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as a "judicial prostitute"... Bush, nominated to the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, has written extensively on his wife's blog, embracing alt-right notions, including the false claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. "Mr. Bush, I've read your blogs," Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said. "I'm not impressed."... Bush and Schiff don't seem much like Neil Gorsuch, Trump's highly qualified and temperate nominee for the Supreme Court. I hope the Senate will set an appropriately high standard for all lower-court candidates, and that the public will pay attention.

Senators Grill Trump Judicial Nominees On Provocative Blog Posts (National Public Radio, 06/15/17)
Nina Totenberg: Trump has more than 130 judicial vacancies to fill on the federal courts. The number is unusually large because Republicans blocked dozens of Obama appointees — including uncontroversial ones .... At Wednesday's hearing, the two nominees found themselves trying to explain hundreds of their own blog posts, posts they admitted were "intemperate" and "political." The posts included material ranging from radical rants, to conspiracy theories and false allegations.... John Bush, a Kentucky lawyer nominated to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, said he regretted some of his 400-plus posts, all published under a fake name .... While Bush adopted an apologetic tone, a second nominee, Damien Schiff, was far more confrontational. Schiff, a senior attorney with the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation in California, is nominated to sit on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. He has a long record challenging everything from environmental regulations, to health and safety laws, to gay rights laws. In one of his many blog posts, Schiff called Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy a "judicial prostitute."...Schiff accused Kennedy, who often casts the fifth and deciding vote in closely divided cases, of "selling his vote ... to four other justices in exchange for the high that comes from the aggrandizement of power and influence, and the blandishments of the fawning media." Schiff only marginally backed away from those words on Wednesday. "The point of that blog post was not to impugn or malign any person," he insisted, "but rather to attack a certain style of judging that is frequently applauded in the media."