As a rule, the Republicans’ judicial pipeline works with remarkable efficiency. Partisan operatives tell Donald Trump who to nominate; the White House sends the nominees to Capitol Hill, and the Republican-led Senate serves as a rubber stamp. The result is a largely successful initiative to move the entire federal judiciary to the right.
Once in a great while, however, there are exceptions.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), for example, derailed a couple of Trump nominees with problematic records on race. What’s more, Brett Talley withdrew when his profound lack of qualifications was exposed; Jeff Mateer’s nomination ended when senators learned of his bizarre anti-LGBT animus; and Matthew Petersen called it quits following a humiliating confirmation hearing.
Yesterday, the list of failed Trump judicial nominees got just a little longer. Politico reported:
Michael Bogren, a Trump judicial nominee, is withdrawing from consideration amid a Republican backlash, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
Bogren, who was nominated to the District Court for the Western District of Michigan, faced growing opposition from Republican senators. Three Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee – Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina – said they would oppose his nomination and more were expected to emerge. He also faced criticism from conservative advocacy groups like the Judicial Crisis Network, Heritage Action for America, and Conservative Action Project.
What makes Bogren’s reported withdrawal so notable is the degree to which it’s different than Trump’s other failed judicial nominees: some Senate Republicans decided Bogren just wasn’t far enough to the right.
The basis for the controversy was a fairly obscure case involving a Roman Catholic couple in East Lansing who hosted weddings at their farm, but who barred a same-sex couple from using their venue. Soon after, the couple was barred from the local farmers’ market.
The couple sued East Lansing, and Bogren signed off on a brief defending the city. That court motion, among other things, compared the couple’s discriminatory policy to a KKK-owned business that refused to serve interracial couples.
For Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, this was a bridge too far.
The strange part of the story is that both of Michigan’s Democratic senators – Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters – were entirely comfortable with Bogren’s nomination. Usually, when there’s a contentious fight over a Trump-backed jurist, it’s because Senate Dems see the White House’s pick as too radically conservative.
In this case, however, it was the opposite.