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Voter Purge Defender Confirmed to Court on Selma Anniversary (2)

March 7, 2019, 5:19 PM; Updated: March 7, 2019, 8:53 PM

Ohio Solicitor and former Jones Day associate Eric Murphy on Thursday became the 34th Donald Trump appellate nominee to win U.S. Senate confirmation.

Murphy was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 52 to 46.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio criticized Murphy as an opponent of voting rights, noting that he was being confirmed on the 54th anniversary of the attack on civil rights protesters during the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.

Murphy successfully defended his state’s process for purging inactive voters from its voting rolls, in 2018’s Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute.

The Senate has accelerated its pace of appeals court confirmations with one last week and three more this week. More are expected to come before the chamber next week as the drive by Trump and the Republican-led Senate to reshape the federal judiciary marches on.

After Murphy’s confirmation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed motions to end debate on two more nominees, signaling their likely confirmation next week.

Paul Matey would “flip” the Third Circuit to a majority of Republican nominees if confirmed, and Neomi Rao would replace now-Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh on the District of Columbia Circuit.

Two Others Clear Committee

Earlier Thursday, Consovoy McCarthy Park Partner Michael Park and District Judge Joseph Bianco moved closer to becoming appellate judges after the Senate Judiciary Committee sent their nominations to the full Senate.

Democrats voiced their opposition to Park and Bianco, nominated to the Second Circuit, over their failure to gain “blue slips” indicating approval from either senator in their home state of New York.

But Chairman Lindsey Graham pointed to Democrats’ decision to eliminate the filibuster for circuit nominees when they were in the majority, which he said led to the deterioration of norms protecting minority parties.

The nominees cleared committee on a party line, 12-10 vote.

Park clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and now focuses on securities enforcement and litigation at his firm. He’s a member of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.

Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein criticized Park for legal positions he advanced as an attorney in private practice, including opposition to the Affordable Care Act and affirmative action.

Bianco is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York where he’s served since 2006. He previously oversaw the terrorism and organized crime unit in the Southern District of New York as an assistant U.S. attorney.

Bianco received the support of his two home-state Democratic senators, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, when appointed to his current post. But Schumer, now the minority leader, and Kirsten Gillibrand, won’t support him now.

(updates with cloture filings)

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick L. Gregory in Washington at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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

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