Despite vocal opposition from Democratic U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Judge Chad Readler was confirmed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference before the Senate vote this week, Senators Schumer and Murphy urged their peers across the aisle to oppose Readler’s nomination, saying a vote for him was “a vote against pre-existing condition protections.”
“Anyone who, in a campaign, or as he goes around his or her state, says ‘I want to protect preexisting conditions,’ and then votes for Readler, is performing an amazing act of hypocrisy," said Senate Minority Leader Schumer.
The opposition stems from Readler’s role in a Republican attorneys general lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. In a brief regarding the lawsuit, Readler called the law and its coverage for people with preexisting medical conditions unconstitutional. Schumer said Readler’s nomination was President Trump’s way of rewarding him.
“His recommendations were so outrageous, that Justice Department officials refused to sign the statement. Many of the attorneys in Justice said, ‘This is such a reach, so ridiculous, we ain’t signing,'" Schumer said. "The day after he filed his brief he was nominated for a lifetime appointment.”
Trump campaigned on repealing the Obama-era ACA. Readler has been the Principal Deputy of the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio called Readler unqualified, crediting his politics for his appointment.
“I personally asked the White House to send us two other judges, who were qualified, also conservative, but not far right – not out of the mainstream. The White House refused," Brown noted. "One Republican senator called Readler’s arguments in the brief as 'farfetched' as he had ever seen.”
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said confirming judicial nominees is a top priority. Also confirmed this week was Allison Rushing to the Fourth Circuit, where the 36-year-old will be the youngest federal judge in the country. Another Sixth Circuit nominee, Eric Murphy of Ohio, has been criticized by Democrats for opposing same-sex marriage.
“This started when the hard right realized that they could not move America the place they wanted on workers’ rights, on LBGT rights, on women’s rights…and so they decided to pack the bench," said Senator Schumer. "And that’s what’s happened.”
Saying healthcare was a top issue for voters in 2018’s midterms – which flipped the U.S. House to Democratic control – Senator Murphy cautioned his Republican peers on the Readler confirmation.
“I think Republicans act at their peril in the Senate, believing that they can continue ‘business as usual’ fighting the ACA after what happened in 2018," Murphy said. "And if they keep this up, that’s a pretty quick pathway to the minority.”
Readler was confirmed by a 52-47 vote. He is President Trump’s 33rd nominee confirmed to the federal appeals court. With the pending confirmation of two other nominees, the president will have filled almost 20 percent of federal appeals court judgeships, according to the New York Times.