One of President Donald J. Trump's most consequential acts so far is the naming of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court and, to a lesser extent, nominating judges to appellate and U.S. District Court vacancies.
Today, James Buchal, a Portland lawyer and the chairman of the Multnomah County Republican Party, wrote to Trump, complaining about the process for filling a vacancy on the bench for the U.S. District Court of Oregon and for another on the Ninth District Court of Appeals that is typically given to an Oregonian.
"Something is very seriously wrong with your appointment process for federal officials establishing federal policy in the State of Oregon," Buchal wrote, noting that the "gatekeeper" for the appointment process is an aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and that the six-member judicial selection committee responsible for vetting candidates contains only one registered Republican.
"While everyone was pleased with your elevation of Justice Gorsuch," Buchal continued, "we find it impossible to understand why a Republican administration would knowingly establish a judicial selection committee controlled by Democrats."
Hank Stern, a Wyden spokesman, says the six-member judicial selection panel resulted from communication between Wyden, his colleague U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and the state's only Republican member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.).
Typically, a state's U.S. Senators are responsible for coordinating federal appointments with the president but because Oregon's two senators are Democrats and Trump is a Republican, Walden is involved as well.
The panel the three men chose includes lawyers Cliff Bentz, Keith Dubanevich, Lori Murphy, Bryan Lessley, Jennifer Middleton and Jane Paulson. Bentz, a state representative from Ontario is the group's only Republican.