A conservative federal prosecutor from Oregon nominated by President Trump for a lifetime appointment to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been forced to apologize for articles he wrote twenty years ago while a student at Stanford that criticized groups based on their racial makeup and questioned the value of cultural sensitivity training, among other issues.
Ryan W. Bounds was grilled by Democrats during his nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.
Bounds admitted that his commentaries for the Stanford Review written in the 1990s were “overheated” and apologized for the tone of some of what he wrote.
“I share the concerns of many that the rhetoric I used in debating campus politics back in the early ’90s on Stanford’s campus was often overheated, overbroad,” he said, adding that his views should have been “about how to best pursue diversity and ensure a multicultural respect on campus,” according to The Washington Post.
An example of the commentaries Bounds wrote which Democrats object to include a plea to the university not to lower the burden of proof when a person is accused of rape, if that person is expelled “in the absence of adequate certainty,” adding, “expelling students is probably not going to contribute a great deal toward a rape victim’s recovery.”
In another article, Bounds mocked the importance of “sensitivity” after Stanford made all students take a course in sensitivity training after an LGBT statue was vandalized.”
Bounds called sensitivity as a “pestilence” that “stalks us.”
When called on that statement by Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE), Bounds said he had always “fought as much as I could, whenever I’ve seen it, against people’s impulses to engage in that sort of behavior,” adding, “These articles are perhaps clumsy efforts to fight against it.”
His remarks as a student are not the only objection Democrats have to Bounds, who is a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative group that has become notorious for authoring a paper called, “Undoing President Barack Obama’s Judicial Legacy.”
That is exactly what Democrats believe Bounds would do, especially the two Democratic Senators from his home state of Oregon – Ron Wyden and Jeffrey E. Merkley – which has precipitated another crisis.
For many years there was an unwritten but firm rule in the Senate that if both Senators from the nominee’s home state objected to that person and refused to turn in a “blue slip” signaling their approval, the nomination would be killed by their veto.
Democrats have noted that Presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton observed the “blue slip” protocol.
Under Trump and the Republican majority, for the first time in modern American history, that courtesy rule is being ignored and the Bounds nomination is moving forward.
“Today, we’re making history — really bad history, for this institution and for the country and our Constitution,” said committee member Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
One of those pushing hard to get Bounds approved is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has spoke about the dozens of letters of support Bounds has received.
This particular appointment is especially meaningful to many Democrats because the 9th Circuit has over recent years shown an independent spirit and feisty progressive bent that has made it a thorn in the side of many opponents, especially conservatives.
For instance, the 9th Circuit has ruled against Trump’s ban on immigration from certain primarily Muslim countries and voted against Trump’s attacks on Sanctuary cities.
Placing Bounds on the court is seen as an effort to turn the Appeals Court more conservative.
“For the last 10 months the administration has tried its level best to move our country backward, to roll back progress by implementing a deeply destructive and deeply unpopular agenda,” Sen. Blumenthal said.
“They want to dismantle the Affordable Care Act,” he continued. “They want to abandon LGBT Americans. They want to make it harder to vote, harder to organize, harder to breathe clean air and drink clean water.”
“These issues of policy are before us in the legislature,” added Blumenthal, “but they’re also before the courts, and the administration is seeking to leave a lasting mark, perhaps its chief legacy on this country, through its judicial nominees.”
Whether Trump makes it through his four-year term or gets a second term, Bounds at age 44 is likely to be around for another four decades or more, making conservative rulings that could affect a lot of important issues.
That makes this a fight worth the effort for Democrats, who have stalled or stopped some of Trump’s other appointments but lost many rounds, as well.
This is Trump’s real legacy and it is a danger to the American values of liberty and justice for all.