Donald Trump took his second step in as many days toward flipping another federal appeals court to a majority of judges appointed by Republicans.
The Senate confirmed Consovoy McCarthy Park partner Michael Park to the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by a 52 to 41 vote. Joseph Bianco was confirmed to the same court on Wednesday.
Park’s confirmation means that Trump can flip the 13-member Second Circuit, if he can replace two others scheduled to retire by the end of June.
Based in the nation’s financial capital, the Second Circuit has been called the “Mother Court” of securities law and has been the center of high-profile cases including the NFL’s “Deflategate” controversy.
And with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe complete, the focus of Trump-related investigations now shifts to New York.
Trump flipped the Pennsylvania-based Third Circuit earlier this year to majority Republican appointees.
Although a majority of appointments by a president of one party or another doesn’t guarantee case outcomes, Trump has vowed to appoint conservative judges in the mold of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a proponent of originalism and textualism.
Park drew criticism from progressives for conservative litigation stances he’s taken on issues including affirmative action and the funding of Planned Parenthood.
He also filed an amicus brief supporting the Trump administration’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, in a dispute recently argued at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Both of New York’s Democratic senators, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, opposed Park.
Republicans have allowed the confirmation of appeals court nominees without home state support, in a change from Senate practice during the Obama administration.
“Park’s confirmation threatens decades of civil and human rights progress,” Kristine Lucius of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a progressive group that has opposed Trump’s nominees said.
Park clerked for conservative Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., at the high court and when Alito was on the Third Circuit.
He received a rating of “Well Qualified” from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, its highest rating.
Park is the third of Trump’s appointees to the Second Circuit, along with Judge Richard Sullivan and Bianco, who’s a district court judge and former organized crime and terrorism prosecutor.
Ex-King & Spalding Associate
In a separate development, the Judiciary Committee on Thursday cleared four other Trump nominees for votes in the full Senate. They include Texas Deputy First Assistant Attorney General Brantley Starr, who’s nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
He is a former associate at King & Spalding and clerked for now-Fifth Circuit Judge Don Willett, when he was a Texas Supreme Court justice.
Starr “has a long history of working to undermine LGBT nondiscrimination protections,” said Sasha Buchert of Lambda Legal, a progressive group that seeks to promote LGBT rights.
The other nominees approved by the committee were:
- Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Vincent Brown, nominated to the Southern District of Texas;
- Stephanie L. Haines, who was nominated to the Western District of Pennsylvania and is both a colonel in the West Virginia Air National Guard and a federal prosecutor; and
- Judge Robert J. Colville, who was also nominated to the Western District of Pennsylvania and now serves on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.