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Two More Big Law Ninth Circuit Nominees Advance to US Senate Vote

Daniel Collins (left) and Kenneth Lee testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee during their confirmation hearing to be judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on March 13. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Two California lawyers nominated to seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit passed through Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning despite opposition from the state’s two Democratic senators.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, who both sit on the committee , came out publicly earlier this year against President Donald Trump's nominations of Daniel Collins and Kenneth Lee, declining to return the so-called blue slips to indicate their signoff.

The California senators said they opposed Lee, a Los Angeles-based partner at Jenner & Block, largely because of college writings that weren’t initially disclosed to the senators’ judicial vettors and the Judiciary Committee, where Feinstein sits as ranking minority member. Feinstein and Harris claimed Lee’s writings expressed extreme views on issues including affirmative action and campus sexual harassment. With Collins, a Los Angeles-based partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, the senators cited temperament concerns based on positions he’d taken in litigation while in private practice.

But on Thursday, Feinstein also criticized Collins for only answering Republican questions during his confirmation hearing regarding his stance on certain issues while refusing to answer questions from Democrats.

“Nominees should not be able to answer Republican questions and evade Democratic ones,” Feinstein said. “The same standard must govern responses to questions from both parties”

Thursday’s vote came after the president saw the fourth of his nominees to the Ninth Circuit confirmed to the bench. Bridget Bade, who had served as a magistrate judge in the District of Arizona since 2012, got signoff from the full Senate in a 78-21 vote Tuesday. Trump has also appointed Circuit Judges Mark Bennett, Ryan Nelson and Eric Miller to Ninth Circuit seats based in Hawaii, Idaho and Washington, respectively. Trump’s first nomination to the court—federal prosecutor Ryan Bounds of Oregon—was withdrawn shortly before a scheduled vote by the full Senate.

Read more:

2 California Ninth Circuit Nominees Get Confirmation Hearing Despite Senators' Objections

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On Judicial Nominations, Trump White House—Again—Spurns Democrats

3 Takeaways From Failed Ryan Bounds 9th Circuit Nomination

Nate Robson contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.