Merkley Slams Bounds Nomination and Republican Court-Packing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Republicans today pushed forward the judicial nomination of Ryan Bounds to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, despite the objections of Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. The procedural vote to move Bounds forward occurred on an extremely narrow, party-line vote, with 50 Senators voting to moving forward and 49 moving against.

Merkley spoke extensively on the Senate floor last night against Bounds’ nomination. Referring to Bounds’ decision to hide controversial and intolerant writings from the bipartisan Oregon selection committee, Merkley asked, “Is the person fit when they say the things Ryan Bounds has said? Is the individual fit when the individual writes that promoting diversity contributes more to restricting consciousness and aggravating intolerance than a Nazi book-burning? Is the person fit who says that there’s nothing wrong with a university failing to properly punish an alleged rapist? Is the person fit who hid these writings from the selection committee?”

Video of Merkley’s remarks is available here.

If confirmed tomorrow, Bounds will be the first judicial nominee in at least a century to become a federal judge over the objections of both home state senators. The blue slip process translates the Senate’s constitutional responsibility of “advice and consent” on judicial nominees into practice by ensuring that the president consults with home-state senators on lifetime appointments, and that nominees are within the mainstream of legal thought and are well-regarded members of the legal communities in the states where they will serve. Merkley and Wyden have refused to return their blue slips following the revelation that Bounds had hid inflammatory writings revealing his archaic and alarming views about sexual assault, the rights of workers, people of color, and the LGBTQ community to the bipartisan Oregon judicial selection committee.