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Trump Moves Closer to GOP-Appointed Majority in Second Circuit

Nov. 7, 2019, 9:13 PM

William Nardini easily was confirmed Nov. 7 for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, inching it closer to a majority of judges appointed by Republican presidents.

The court would “flip” if the Senate confirms White House lawyer Steven Menashi, whose controversial nomination is scheduled for the first of two possible votes on Nov. 12.

President Donald Trump already flipped the Pennsylvania-based Third Circuit in his historic push to reshape the federal judiciary with conservative judges.

Nardini‘s bipartisan confirmation, 86 to 2, represents another milestone for the administration. Trump has filled a quarter of the 179 federal appeals court seats.

So far, Trump has appointed nearly 160 district and appeals judges and two Supreme Court justices. He said he’s looking to add another two dozen confirmed nominees in coming months.

Second Circuit appointments are magnified in the partisan political climate. The court, centered in the nation’s financial capital, could wind up addressing disputes around Trump controversies, ranging from his business dealings to any criminal liability. It has already ruled on Trump’s ability to block critics on Twitter.

Nardini, who is a federal prosecutor in Connecticut, clerked for retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and two Second Circuit judges. He received a “Well Qualified” rating from the American Bar Association.

The Senate also confirmed the nominations of Lee Rudofsky and Jennifer Wilson, who will sit on U.S. District Courts in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, respectively. Wilson, a lawyer in Pennsylvania and former Justice Department attorney, was easily confirmed, 88 to 3. Rudofsky’s confirmation, however, was narrow, clearing the Senate by a 51 to 41 vote.

Rudofsky is general counsel for Walmart and a former Kirkland & Ellis attorney. He campaigned for Mitt Romney in his 2012 run for president and is a former professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

His nomination was opposed by liberal-leaning outside groups such as The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Lena Zwarensteyn, the organization’s director of fair courts campaign, said he was “unfit for the position and will bring bias to the bench.”

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