President Joe Biden is not backing down on plans to nominate an anti-abortion lawyer for a federal judgeship for life in Kentucky, despite strong opposition from Democrats and reproductive rights groups, according to a source recently briefed on the plans. from the White House.
White House officials have refused to discuss Chad Meredith since the Louisville Courier-Journal. reported at the end of last month that he is the president’s choice for a vacant soon Seat of the US District Court in Eastern Kentucky. Even the newspaper provided copies of June 23 emails from the White House to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (R) confirming Biden’s plan to nominate Meredith, a member of the conservative Federalist Society who has fought for the right to abortion.
The White House initially told Beshear that Meredith would be nominated the following day, June 24. But that turned out to be the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and the nomination did not take place. Now they are just crickets.
“I’m just not, we just don’t comment, on vacancies, either executive or judicial, in situations where we haven’t made a nomination,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. reporters on Wednesday, when asked. about Meredith. “We just haven’t made a nomination on this yet.”
But the news is out and Biden is facing fire from his own party and allies. Beshear called such a nomination “indefensible,” and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said “The last thing we need is another extremist on the bench.” Eight national groups for the right to abortion issued a rare joint statement calling Meredith “unacceptable at any time, but especially after six Supreme Court justices took away a fundamental right from millions of people.”
On Monday night, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, similarly raised concerns about the possibility of Biden appointing Meredith to a lifetime seat on federal court.
“I don’t think this is the type of person that a Democratic majority should put on the bench,” Kaine told HuffPost.
It might have appeared that the White House has been backing away from Meredith’s potential nomination given her silence in response to the Democratic outcry. But behind the scenes, the White House is apparently indicating that she still plans to go ahead with her nomination.
“They are defending him,” the source reported last week. about the White House plan to HuffPost, after requesting anonymity so he could speak freely about private conversations.
This source also believes that Meredith would likely be announced as part of a large package of judicial nominees that would include many picks that Democrats like.
None of this is set in stone. It’s unclear what Biden hopes to get in return for nominating Meredith. It’s also unclear when, if any, such a nominee package might be announced.
But the president’s plan to potentially nominate Meredith may be part of a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to speed other judicial nominees through a deadlocked Senate, especially before November’s midterm elections that could cost Democrats control of the House. An aide to McConnell previously said he had “great respect for Chad” when he was being considered for a different court position in 2019.
One little-noticed detail supports the idea that Meredith is also part of a package: In the email the White House sent to Beshear indicating its plan to nominate Meredith, White House officials appear to have simply cut and pasted the language. from the White House. about Meredith in the email, including the number eight just before Meredith’s name, as if he were one on a list of nominees being grouped together.
Here’s a screenshot of how the language about Meredith appears in the email from the White House, via the Courier-Journal:
More than two dozen progressive organizations urged Biden last month to fill every court vacancy by the end of the year, since it will be much harder for Democrats to confirm justices if Republicans win control of the Senate. It’s possible the President is taking this approach seriously in light of Meredith’s nomination, namely giving McConnell a candidate he wants in exchange for him not obstructing many other court elections, though this one likely won’t be. the kind of compensation that progressive groups were making. imagining
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
A McConnell spokesman also did not respond to a request for comment.