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Childs’ DC Circuit Nomination Advances to Senate Floor (1)

May 26, 2022, 1:39 PM

Michelle Childs’ nomination to the powerful US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit easily advanced to the Senate floor on Thursday with bipartisan support.

Childs, considered by President Joe Biden for Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the Supreme Court before he selected Ketanji Brown Jackson, was reported favorably by the Democratic-led Judiciary Committee, 17-5.

Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the panel’s top Republican, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., were among GOP members supporting the nomination. Childs has been a trial judge since 2010 in the US District of South Carolina.

“Judge Childs would not have been chosen by a conservative Republican president, but she is highly qualified to do the job,” Graham said. “She has earned a reputation of following the law as it is written, being fair, and having a disposition that lawyers enjoy being in front of. Judge Childs wears the robe well.”

If confirmed, Childs would fill the seat of Judge David Tatel, who took senior status earlier this month.

Action on Childs comes the day after Biden nominated federal trial judge Florence Pan to the vacancy on the DC Circuit left by Jackson’s elevation to the Supreme Court.

The DC Circuit, which is sometimes considered the second-most powerful court after the Supreme Court, is a chief venue for cases involving administrative agencies and Congress. It has also been a springboard for future justices.

Abudu Deadlock

The nomination of Nancy Abudu for the Eleventh Circuit deadlocked 11-11, which now requires an extra step by the full Senate to move her name to the floor.

At her April hearing, Abudu drew GOP criticism for her work at the Southern Poverty Law Center where she’s deputy legal director and director for strategic litigation. Republicans took issue with SPLC’s treatment of conservative-aligned organizations and some GOP lawmakers.

Abudu said her role in the legal department was separate from SPLC’s other work and couldn’t speak to how conclusions were reached on classifying “hate groups.”

Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called the Republican claim “not only misleading but I don’t believe it’s fair.” He also dismissed GOP calls to delay consideration of her nomination while a judicial panel in Alabama looks into allegations the SPLC litigation team was involved in “judge shopping.” Abudu “made it abundantly clear she played no role whatsoever in this alleged incident” involving the dismissal of a case, and has “unequivocally condemned judge shopping,” Durbin said.

No Second Hearing

The committee also advanced the nomination Nusrat Jahan Choudhury to the Brooklyn-based Eastern District of New York, 12-10, after Durbin said he’d rejected GOP calls for an unusual second confirmation hearing after what they said were conflicting statements to the committee concerning her reported remarks at panel several years ago about police killings of unarmed Black men.

Durbin said she’d strongly disavowed the statement, and expressed deep respect for law enforcement. “There was no record or transcript of the panel discussion she participated in. Just a tweet from someone who was apparently in the audience,” Durbin said noting it was a challenging situation but that she deserved the benefit of the doubt.

If confirmed, Choudhury would be the second Muslim and first Muslim woman to be a federal judge, according to the White House.

Five Holdovers

Lamakers also advanced the nomination of Ana Isabel de Alba, for the Eastern District of California, and Natasha Merle, for the Eastern District of New York.

At the request of Republicans, the panel held over the nominations of John Lee for the Seventh Circuit; Salvador Mendoza, Jr., for the Ninth Circuit; Stephen Locher for the Southern District of Iowa; Nancy Maldonado for the Northern District of Illinois, and Gregory Williams for the District of Delaware. Holdovers on their first scheduled vote is customary.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com