Senate Republicans have just confirmed Howard Nielson to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. A longtime conservative activist, Nielson has argued against same-sex marriage, against same-sex couples being allowed to raise children, and against the decision to declare California's Prop 8 unconstitutional, claiming the judge in that case could not objectively rule because he is gay.
The vote late Wednesday afternoon was 51-47, along party lines, with only Maine's Republican Senator Susan Collins voting no.
Nielson, who opposes same-sex marriage on the grounds same-sex couples cannot reproduce without assistance, has also argued against the Affordable Care Act, and against equal opportunity and affirmative action. He has also argued to uphold laws designed to make it even harder for women to obtain abortions, and argued against common-sense gun laws designed to increase public safety.
But Nielson may be best-known for working on the team at DOJ that produced the "torture memos" which President George W. Bush used to order the infliction of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," including waterboarding, which is an international war crime. His remarks, (and his own "torture memo,") in defense of his then-colleague were in support of the argument allowing torture.
Nielson will be sworn in as U.S. District Judge for the District of Utah.