Democrats re­cy­cle Gor­such ques­tions for nom­i­nee Tha­pur

Doesn’t take bait on ear­lier Trump judge bash­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY ALEX SWOYER

Democrats weren’t able to de­rail Jus­tice Neil M. Gor­such, but they haven’t aban­doned the pointed ques­tions they aimed at him, re­cy­cling those ques­tions Wednesday for a hear­ing with ap­peals court nom­i­nee Judge Amul R. Tha­par.

From cam­paign fi­nance re­form cases to his ties to the con­ser­va­tive Fed­er­al­ist So­ci­ety, Judge Tha­par fended off the in­quiries dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, ask­ing to be eval­u­ated on the rep­u­ta­tion he amassed dur­ing more than a decade on the fed­eral bench.

He also bat­ted away an at­tempt by Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat, to force him into a con­fronta­tion with Pres­i­dent Trump, whose crit­i­cism of fed­eral courts has riled crit­ics.

“I am a proud Ar­ti­cle III judge. We’ve been crit­i­cized from the be­gin­ning of this great coun­try. Thomas Jef­fer­son went af­ter Chief Jus­tice Mar­shall, and I ap­pre­ci­ate the protection other branches pro­vide to us,” Judge Tha­pal said. “It doesn’t mat­ter to us.”

Mr. Blu­men­thal was non­plussed.

“It doesn’t mat­ter to you, judge, but it does mat­ter to the pow­ers of the fed­eral courts that the Amer­i­can public re­spect and trust the fed­eral ju­di­ciary,” said Mr. Blu­men­thal.

Judge Tha­par is Mr. Trump’s nom­i­nee to fill an empty seat on the 6th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals — the first of what’s ex­pected to be a se­ries of picks to fill nearly 20 ap­peals court

“I am a proud Ar­ti­cle III judge. We’ve been crit­i­cized from the be­gin­ning of this great coun­try. Thomas Jef­fer­son went af­ter Chief Jus­tice Mar­shall, and I ap­pre­ci­ate the protection other branches pro­vide to us. It doesn’t mat­ter to us.”

— Judge Amul R. Tha­par, ap­peals court nom­i­nee

va­can­cies na­tion­wide.

Democrats, who lost their bat­tle to de­rail Jus­tice Gor­such ear­lier this month, are try­ing to fig­ure out how to han­dle Mr. Trump’s other court nom­i­nees.

Sen. Shel­don White­house prod­ded the judge on his views about cam­paign fi­nance, fol­low­ing a line of ques­tion­ing he aimed at Jus­tice Gor­such.

Mr. White­house, Rhode Is­land Demo­crat, wants ju­di­cial nom­i­nees to crit­i­cize the state of cam­paign fi­nance law fol­low­ing the 2010 Cit­i­zens United case, where the Supreme Court ruled the First Amend­ment pro­tected cor­po­ra­tions’ and la­bor unions’ right to po­lit­i­cal speech.

The sen­a­tor said he re­jected Judge Tha­par’s past com­ments say­ing po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions are the equiv­a­lent of speech.

“Those of us who are in pol­i­tics know that is a false state­ment,” said Mr. White­house. “That is in­deed a pre­pos­ter­ous state­ment fac­tu­ally be­cause money has a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ef­fect than speech once it en­ters the po­lit­i­cal arena.”

Judge Tha­par was prod­ded about his rul­ing in a case where he op­posed cam­paign ethics rules for ju­di­cial can­di­dates in Ken­tucky that would have lim­ited their con­tri­bu­tions in par­ti­san pol­i­tics.

“This was a re­ally hard case,” the judge said. “If the Supreme Court were to say I’m wrong, then I un­der­stand that.”

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mc­Connell in­tro­duced Judge Tha­par, who is from his home state of Ken­tucky, at the hear­ing. Mr. Mc­Connell noted Judge Tha­par re­ceived the high­est ju­di­cial qual­i­fi­ca­tion rat­ing from the Amer­i­can Bar As­so­ci­a­tion.

But Democrats said they were more wor­ried about the judge’s ties to an­other le­gal group, The Fed­er­al­ist So­ci­ety, which is an as­so­ci­a­tion of con­ser­va­tive and lib­er­tar­ian-lean­ing le­gal schol­ars and stu­dents.

The Fed­er­al­ist So­ci­ety helped craft a list of po­ten­tial Supreme Court nom­i­nees for Mr. Trump, and both Jus­tice Gor­such and Judge Tha­par were on the list.

Mr. White­house ac­cused The Fed­er­al­ist So­ci­ety of “try­ing to bring its cor­po­rate in­ter­ests to the court.”

Judge Tha­par dis­missed the guilt-by-as­so­ci­a­tion charge, ask­ing to be judged on his own rul­ings.

“If you look at the en­tirety of my record, what you would see and what you would hear from lawyers is that I’m fair,” said Judge Tha­par, quot­ing a crim­i­nal de­fense at­tor­ney who said, “I don’t know his pol­i­tics, I just know he will rule by the book.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Judge Amul Tha­par, Pres­i­dent’s Trump nom­i­nee for an ap­peals court va­cancy, was taken to task by Democrats in his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing over his con­sid­er­ing cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions to be po­lit­i­cal speech.

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