The U.S. Senate confirmed attorney Daniel Bress to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, bringing the number of President Donald Trump’s appointees on the court to seven. U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, voted against Bress.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman criticized Sen. Jones for his vote against the Trump nominee.
“Once again, Senator Doug Jones has voted NO on one of President Donald J. Trump’s nominees – this time it’s Daniel Bress for the U.S. Court of Appeals,” ALGOP said. “Alabama supports President Trump. Senator Jones doesn’t. It’s time for a change.”
“Another @DougJones day on ignoring the majority of Alabama in the highest approval rated state (AL) for @realDonaldTrump,” Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said on Twitter.
Lathan also drew attention to recent comments reportedly made by Jones where National Journal reports that Jones said he’d do what he could to avoid confirming another Trump nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jones voted against Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh even though polling showed that the majority of Alabamians supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Senators were divided along a party line vote, 53 to 45 over Bress. There were strong objections to Bress from California’s Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.
“I’m very disappointed the Daniel Bress nomination is moving forward to fill a California seat on the Ninth Circuit,” Sen. Feinstein said on Twitter. “Both @SenKamalaHarris and I objected to his lack of connections to our state. He’s not the right nominee for this lifetime position.”
Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris objected to what she felt were Bress’s limited ties to California.
“It’s important to remember that it’s a president’s job to nominate judges – not appoint them,” Sen. Harris said in a statement in May. “Advising and consenting to judicial nominees for vacancies in California is one of my key duties as U.S. Senator. It is clear that this role is not being honored by the White House or the Senate Judiciary Committee. Daniel Bress has been nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, but he has lived and practiced law in the Washington, D.C. area for more than a decade. He clerked for two federal judges on the East Coast, and has voted in Virginia for roughly the last decade. Put plainly, Daniel Bress does not live in California and he is not a California lawyer. He lacks strong ties to the local legal community that, if confirmed, would appear in his courtroom every day. This nomination is yet another egregious violation of the norms under which the Senate once operated. I will continue to oppose Bress’ nomination.”
Daniel Bress is a Kirkland & Ellis litigation partner. He was formerly a clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
The Trump administration nominated Bress in January to a California-based seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, selecting him to fill the vacancy left by Judge Alex Kozinski. Kozinski retired in late 2017 facing allegations of sexual misconduct.
Democrats argued that Bress is an East Coast lawyer with little claim to a California seat. Republicans pointed out that Bress was born and raised in rural California and still sometimes lives and litigates there.
Bress, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee said, “When my wife’s career brought us from San Francisco to Washington, I chose to continue making California central to my practice. I’ve been involved in cases at all levels of the California court system, federal and state and worked on more litigation in California than any other state by far.”
“It has been my great privilege to be a practicing lawyer in those courts; I could not be more excited about the possibility of returning home and serving our legal system in a part of our country that means so much to me,” Bress said.
Bress described his boyhood in Gilroy, California, as the “most formative experience” of his life. “Those who know me well know that I’m never happier than when I’m back home in Gilroy writing briefs, working in the family orchard, or visiting with old friends.”
The Ninth Circuit for decades has been the federal appeals court that was seen as “the most aggressively liberal” and early in the administration states or groups suing the Trump administration would “judge shop” for a liberal judge in the 9th Circuit to rule against the administration and in their favor. The Trump Administration has aggressively looked to shape the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Bress’s confirmation means that seven Trump appointees now sit on the San Francisco-based court.
Alabama is the state where Trump has his highest approval.
Republicans hope that Alabama voters will vote against Jones and for a Senator more likely to support the President’s nominees.
(Original reporting by Law.com and Townhall contributed to this report.)