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Senate Judiciary Deadlocks on Dobbs Lawyer for First Circuit

Dec. 1, 2022, 2:51 PM

The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked along party lines on advancing the federal appeals court nomination of the lawyer who represented the Mississippi abortion clinic in the US Supreme Court case that overturned the constitutional right to abortion.

Julie Rikelman, tapped for a seat of on the Boston-based US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, attracted opposition on Thursday from 11 panel Republicans, who questioned whether her personal views would cloud how she approaches cases.

At her September confirmation hearing, Rikelman, said she would “apply Dobbs faithfully” when asked about the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that she unsuccessfully argued on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Tie votes in committee don’t sink a nomination, but they add an extra step in the confirmation process on the floor. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) must call a vote of the full chamber in order to move the nomination out of committee.

The committee approved two other Biden appeals court nominees. Anthony Devos Johnstone, a University of Montana law professor nominated to the Ninth Circuit, was approved 11-10 while Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Maria Araújo Kahn received a 12-10 vote for the Second Circuit.

—With assistance from Madison Alder

To contact the reporter on this story: Seth Stern in Washington at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com