President Joe Biden’s reported choice for a lifetime of federal justice in Kentucky is not only extremely anti-abortion, he would also function much like Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia, according to his former boss.
Chad Meredith, who the Louisville Courier-Journal reported last week was Biden’s choice for a soon-to-be vacant U.S. district court seat, “would be a strong and reliable conservative asset for the federal court for decades,” according to a 2018 letter from Stephen Pitt, a general counsel of conservative former Kentucky Gov. . Matt Bevin (R). The letter put forward Meredith’s candidacy for another vacancy in federal court in Kentucky that year.
Meredith, then Bevin’s deputy general, would “follow the textualist and original position followed by the late Justice Scalia and by other judges, such as Justice Thomas and Justice. [Neil] Gorsuch, ”Pitt wrote in his letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “Still, it is my opinion that the qualities that I believe you think are most important in a federal judge are the same as what I hold on to. Based on that belief, I can recommend Chad Meredith without reservation. ”
Here is a copy of the 2018 letter, which HuffPost obtained via an open record request.
McConnell assistant Terry Carmack responded to Pitt at the time, saying he had “great respect for Chad,” according to an email included in the released records. Meredith was selected for the post, but then-President Donald Trump chose another conservative lawyer to fill it instead.
The comparisons between Meredith and Judges Thomas and Scalia are likely to intensify calls on Biden to abandon his plans to nominate him. Such a choice would not only run counter to Biden’s much-discussed record of representing diverse and progressive judicial nominees, but it would be on the heels of the Supreme Court which Roe v. Wade cut outa decision that breaks 50 years of precedent and strips away the constitutional right to an abortion.
The ruling devastated and angered Democrats, who are now scrambling to try to protect reproductive rights nationwide. Biden’s apparent decision to nominate Meredith has meanwhile raised questions about why a president insisted he would “do everything in my power to protect” abortion rights would hand over a lifelong judicial appointment to an ardent opponent of it.
The White House initially notified Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear he plans to nominate Meredith on June 23, the Courier-Journal reported, citing emails from a White House official at Beshear’s office .
“To be nominated tomorrow:… Stephen Chad Meredith: Candidate for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky,” said the email from Kathleen M. Marshall, Assistant to the White House.
But the next day, the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade overthrew, and the nomination did not take place.
A White House spokesman on Wednesday did not respond to a request for comment on whether Biden still intends to nominate Meredith.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, meanwhile, tried to have both sides when asked about Meredith, refusing to comment on the problems with his potential nomination while boasting about the fast pace and diversity of Biden’s other nominees.
“I’m just not – we just do not comment – on vacancies, whether executive or judicial, in situations where we have not made a nomination. We have not yet made a nomination on this, “Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday on Air Force One on his way to Ohio.
“I do want to add and repeat that the president is proud that we have confirmed more federal judges than during the last three presidents, presidencies, at the same time in their administrations,” she said. “It includes so many history-creating firsts to help our judiciary represent the diversity of America, including [a] groundbreaking new Supreme Court justice. And that is something we are going to keep doing, and we will not stop there. ”
“The president is making a deal with the devil and once again the people of Kentucky are being crushed in the process.”
Former Kentucky State Rep. Charles Booker
Meredith certainly fits in with Trump’s court choices. He is a member of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal organization that has been sending judicial nominees against abortion, anti-LGBTQ and anti-voting rights to Trump’s White House for years. All six judges of the Supreme Court who voted to oust Roe v. Wade overthrew are members of the Federalist Society, as well as dozens of Trump’s nominees for U.S. appeals courts.
During his time as Bevin’s Deputy Advocate, Meredith defended a 2017 Kentucky Act which forced abortion patients to undergo an ultrasound – and doctors to show the patient an image and play sound of a heartbeat – before they could undergo the procedure. He lost that case in a U.S. district court, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld the law in 2020. The two judges on the three-judge panel who voted to uphold Kentucky law are members of the Federalist Society and were appointed to that court by Trump.
In 2019, Meredith and Pitt also announced Bevin’s decision to deny a license to Planned Parenthood which would have allowed it to perform abortions in Kentucky. The organization only received the license after Beshear defeated Bevin later that year.
Biden’s decision to nominate Meredith was possibly part of an agreement with McConnell to expedite other Biden nominees by a jammed Senate, especially ahead of midterm elections that could cost Democrats control of the chamber. But it angered Democrats in Kentucky and national reproductive rights organizations, who questioned whether any agreement would be good enough to give a lifelong appointment to a Conservative like Meredith.
Beshear, referring to Meredith’s role in a controversial pardon series Bevin issued before leaving office, calling the potential nomination “indefensible” during a news conference last week.
Rep. John Yarmuth, the only Kentucky Democrat in Congress, said he was “strong” against the election, and he tell the Courier-Journal “the last thing we need is another extremist on the bench.”
“The president is making a deal with the devil and once again the people of Kentucky are being crushed in the process,” the former Kentucky state rep. Charles Booker, the Democratic nominee in this year’s U.S. Senate race, tweeted after the Courier Journal’s initial report.
The National Women’s Law Center, NARAL, Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups have urged Biden this week to drop Meredith for consideration.
“Chad Meredith should not be nominated for life imprisonment,” the groups told the Courier Journal. “This is unacceptable at any time, but especially on the heels of six high court judges who are taking away a fundamental right of millions of people.”