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Collins Won’t Back Judicial Pick Over Anti-Abortion Concerns

Nov. 19, 2019, 10:02 PM

A Trump nominee for a district court judgeship in Missouri is already down one Republican vote.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins said she plans to oppose the nomination of Sarah Pitlyk to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, citing her lack of experience, “troubling assertions” on therapies for family struggling with infertility, and stance on abortion. Collins is often opposed to restricting access to abortion.

“My concern is not based on Ms. Pitlyk’s personal views on abortion or various medical decisions, which she has every right to hold,” Collins said in a statement. “I do question, however, given her pattern of strident advocacy, whether she could put aside her personal views on these matters.”

Pitlyk is a former appellate law clerk for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh who currently works for the Thomas Moore Society, the “national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty.”

Her nomination narrowly cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee after Democrats criticized her advocacy work. She was also considered “Not Qualified” by the American Bar Association.

Pitlyk and her Republican defenders on the committee said her personal views wouldn’t affect her judicial performance.

Collins previously voted no on controversial judicial picks nominated by President Donald Trump who went on to be confirmed, including Wendy Vitter, Chad Readler, and White House lawyer Steven Menashi.

She’s a moderate and Democrats have highlighted her key vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as a reason voters should reject her at the polls in 2020.

Her opposition alone, however, won’t sink Pitlyk’s nomination in the full Senate.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com