Senate Confirms Trump Appointee to Ninth Circuit
by Megan Miniero, Court House News, July 9, 2019
WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump now has another appointee on the court he once referred to as “a big thorn in our side,” after the Senate confirmed Daniel Bress to the Ninth Circuit Monday.
In a 53-45 party-line vote, the Senate confirmed Bress’ appointment to the federal appeals court, despite pushback from both senators from California, where the court is based.
In his confirmation hearing, California’s Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, questioned why an attorney who resided outside the state for 11 years should be handed the decisive judgeship.
“The Senate just confirmed Daniel Bress’s nomination to a California seat on the Ninth Circuit, despite opposition from both home-state senators,” Harris wrote on Twitter after the vote Monday. “Make no mistake: this is a degradation of Senate institutional norms at the hands of Republican leaders. I voted NO.”
Bress, who was born in California, attended Harvard University and the University of Virginia School of Law before landing a clerkship with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
After a one-year stint back in California in 2007 as an associate at Munger Tolles and Olson, Bress moved to Washington, D.C., starting as an associate at Kirkland Ellis where he is now a partner.
Bress will fill the seat vacated by Judge Alex Kozinski, who stepped down in 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations.
In May, Bress tried to reassure Feinstein and her Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee that despite his long absence from the Golden State, his “heart is in California.”
The Ninth Circuit has repeatedly stonewalled some of Trump’s most controversial policies, including the travel ban policy that suspended the issuance of visas to people from seven countries, five of which have Muslim-majority populations. The ban was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court.
Last week, the circuit court blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to divert military funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The president has repeatedly lambasted the court, which has appellate jurisdiction over the district courts of nine states in the West and Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Last Thanksgiving, Trump said in a tweet that the Ninth Circuit is a “complete & total disaster” and claimed its “horrible reputation” included a rate of 79 percent of cases being overturned.
While authorized for 29 judgeships, the court currently has 27, including Trump appointees Mark Bennett and Ryan Nelson. The Senate confirmed an additional two Trump nominees to the court – Daniel Collins and Kenneth Lee – and they received their judicial commissions in May and June, respectively.
“I look forward to getting these amply qualified nominees on the job so they can go to work for the country and so the American people can be governed by the government they elected,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday.