President Trump nominates 3 to Court of Appeals in S.F.
President Trump has nominated three California attorneys to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, including a San Diego federal prosecutor who could become the court’s first openly gay judge.
The White House said Patrick Bumatay is a member of the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, which describes itself as an organization where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lawyers in San Diego “network, build friendships and develop their careers.”
BuzzFeed News reported that Bumatay, if confirmed, would be the second openly gay federal appeals court judge in the nation. Bumatay is on assignment in the Justice Department as a counselor to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He is editor of a conservative legal journal at Harvard Law School and also worked in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush before becoming an assistant U.S. attorney in 2012.
Trump’s list of judicial nominees — since he took office in January 2017 — has included one lesbian, Mary Rowland, a federal magistrate nominated to the U.S. District Court in Illinois. President Barack Obama appointed 11 gay or lesbian judges in his two terms.
Trump’s two other Ninth Circuit nominees announced late Wednesday by the White House are Daniel Collins, a Los Angeles attorney and former federal prosecutor who also served in Bush’s Justice Department, and Kenneth Lee, a Los Angeles lawyer who worked in the White House Counsel’s office in the Bush administration.
Lee represented the White House in congressional and other government investigations, according to the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative organization that supports Trump. The network said both Lee and Bumatay are affiliated with the conservative Federalist Society.
They are Trump’s first California selections to the nation’s largest federal appeals court, which has 29 judgeships, including one Trump appointee. The court, a frequent target of Trump’s vilification, still has a majority of Democratic appointees, but the three nominees, if confirmed, “would go a long way toward moving the court to the right,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and commentator on judicial nominations.
The nominations will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has eliminated the practice of allowing home-state senators to block appellate nominations by withholding a “blue slip” signaling their approval.
The committee’s senior Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, had tried to negotiate with the Trump administration on the three California vacancies. She said Thursday she thought she had reached an agreement to approve two Trump appointees in exchange for the inclusion of Lucy Koh, a federal judge in San Jose who was previously nominated to the Ninth Circuit by Obama.
“The decision to move forward with these nominees without consultation or responding to my acceptance of the White House offer reflects President Trump’s desire to remake the court,” Feinstein said in a statement. She referred to the three nominees as “controversial,” but it’s not clear what she or other Democrats could do to block their confirmation.