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Senate Committee Moves 4 More Judicial Nominees, Plans at Least 8 in February

Senate Committee Moves 4 More Judicial Nominees, Plans at Least 8 in February

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by Ken Klukowski

WASHINGTON, DC – Chairman Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) sent four more judicial nominees to the Senate floor and plans to pass another four at its next business meeting, advancing President Trump’s persistent march to keep his campaign promise of reshaping the federal judiciary.

Senators on Thursday voted to send three federal trial court nominees and one federal appeals court nominee to the full Senate, where they are expected to be approved. In a sign of the Democrats’ possible weakening resolve to uniformly oppose all Trump judicial picks, three of the nominees received some Democratic votes in support. The appellate nominee, Kurt Engelhardt for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, was approved 15-6.

The only one approved on a straight 11-10 party-line vote was Howard Nielson, nominated for the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. Nielson is a well-respected former law clerk to a top appellate judge and then worked at the elite Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Democrats are opposing Nielson because of his work defending traditional marriage at the Supreme Court in 2012 and 2013, as well as his work at OLC defending presidential power to subject enemy combatants to enhanced interrogation. He is a partner at Cooper & Kirk, the powerhouse law firm headed by one of the most accomplished lawyers in the nation, Chuck Cooper, who headed OLC as its assistant attorney general under President Ronald Reagan and Attorney General Ed Meese. Cooper is also a savvy political figure in D.C. and a close ally and personal lawyer to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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Shorty Dawkins