President Donald Trump has now confirmed over 150 far-right judges to federal courts, spurred by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and right-wing legal groups who seek to extend their influence long after Republicans are voted out of office.
But even Trump has struck out on some of his judicial picks. And it looks like one of his latest nominees is about to fail. According to Politico, Trump’s nomination of Halil Suleyman “Sul” Ozerden to the long-conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is in jeopardy, as the Judiciary Committee has put off voting for him four times.
Ozerden, a district court judge in Mississippi and an associate of acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, was nominated over opposition from the White House Counsel’s office. He has Mulvaney’s support, as well as that of home-state Sen. Roger Wicker — but multiple far-right senators, including Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), oppose the nomination, and others, like Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are undecided. Conservative activist groups like the Judicial Crisis Network also are unhappy with the nomination.
A key sticking point for many senators is that Ozerden questioned a “religious liberty” lawsuit against the ACA’s contraceptive mandate as premature. There are also reportedly issues with his FBI background check, and his ex-wife has alleged he violated judicial ethics rules. Moreover, JCN’s Carrie Severino has complained that Ozerden’s opinions have a high rate of reversal on the Fifth Circuit.
With Republicans divided on Ozerden’s nomination, Trump’s only hope is to win some crossover support from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. But that is also unlikely to happen, because the NAACP is lobbying them hard against the nomination with a letter warning Ozerden has a “record of hostility to civil rights protections.”
Barring any new developments, it seems as though Trump will have to find someone else.