Biden backs down on appointing anti-abortion federal judge
- Democrats were furious that Biden was considering a member of the Federalist Society who opposed abortion access.
- The White House cited Senator Rand Paul’s opposition in deciding not to nominate Chad Meredith.
- The White House had informed Gov. Andy Beshear on June 23 that it planned to nominate Meredith.
WASHINGTON- President Joe Biden quits plans to appoint a conservative, anti-abortion lawyer as a federal judge in Kentucky, the White House citing opposition from a surprising source: Republican Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
The withdrawal of the White House from his planned appointment of attorney Chad Meredith — in what was an alleged deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — follows a strong backlash from Democrats and progressives furious that Biden considers a member of the Federalist Society who opposed access to abortion to fill a vacancy on the bench.
“In reviewing potential District Court nominees, the White House has learned that Senator Rand Paul will not be returning a blue card on Chad Meredith,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said Friday. “Therefore, the White House will not nominate Mr. Meredith.
Paul could not immediately be reached for comment.
Traditionally, home state senators return what is known as a “blue slip” to indicate their support for federal candidates for district judges.
Republicans dropped the practice of the “blue slip” for appeals court judges under the Trump administration, but kept it for district court judges. Democrats kept the same practice.
“We are thrilled the Biden administration has made this decision – it is the right decision,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju said in a statement. “With abortion rights and access at stake in Kentucky and across the country, it is absolutely essential that all judges uphold and uphold our fundamental rights and freedoms, including reproductive freedom.”
As first reported exclusively by The Courier Journala White House official informed Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s office in a June 23 email that he planned to nominate Meredith the following day to serve as a U.S. District Court judge in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
The next morning, however, the United States Supreme Court released its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion and sending shockwaves across the country. Meredith’s intended nomination has not been announced or submitted.
U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell of the Eastern District of Kentucky notified the White House on June 22 that she was taking senior status and would vacate her seat – but her planned vacancy was not posted online until July 1.
Pro-abortion groups called the potential nomination “unacceptable” and called on Biden not to move forward.
This week, several Senate Democrats said they would vote against a Meredith nomination, raising the odds that the president’s own party will block the pick if he goes ahead.
The The New York Times first reported on the White House dropping Meredith’s nomination.
McConnell told the New York Times “there was no deal” with Biden to trade a Meredith nomination for other considerations in the chamber, calling the president’s willingness to nominate his favorite conservative judge the guy of “collegiality” that the senators displayed.
“It was a personal gesture of friendship,” McConnell added.
McConnell also said he was “very surprised” that Paul voiced his opposition to a Meredith nomination.
Since the June 23 email, Biden has officially nominated 21 people for federal judicial vacancies — but none of them Meredith — in a rush to get more justices confirmed ahead of the midterm elections. of November, when the Democrats risk losing control of the Senate.
Left-wing criticism of Meredith’s choice came as Biden faced cries from progressives demanding bolder action to ensure abortion access after the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
Beshear, a Democrat, called on Biden to clear Meredith’s name.
U.S. Representative John Yarmuth, D-Ky., expressed outrage at the choice, saying Biden needed to have a deal with McConnell so he wouldn’t hold up future White House nominations.
Over the past three weeks, the White House has repeatedly declined to discuss the status of Meredith’s nomination or whether Biden has a deal with McConnell.
“We have received no update from the White House regarding a nomination which, if made, would be indefensible,” Beshear said Thursday.
McConnell had declined to comment on Meredith’s potential nomination, but a spokesperson called talk of a deal “misinformation”.
Meredith, 40, served as an attorney for former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and solicitor general for Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
Meredith championed a 2017 Kentucky abortion law requiring doctors who perform abortions to first perform an ultrasound and describe the image to the patient. He lost in a trial in federal court, but the 6th United States Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld the law.
He also played a role in one of Bevin’s most controversial pardons, which was actually reversed when recipient Patrick Baker was tried in federal court and sentenced to 39½ years in prison for murder.
Contact Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.