Three Democratic state senators have joined a dozen Republican colleagues in urging Oregon's two U.S. Senators to support President Donald J. Trump's nomination of Ryan Bounds to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appointment to replace Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, a Portland native, is the top judicial plum available to an Oregonian.
Earlier this month, Trump announced the appointment of Bounds, a former Bush White House official from Hermiston who now works as a federal prosecutor in Portland.
Bounds, 44, was a member of the Federalist Society at Yale Law School, which indicates he's the kind of conservative jurist Trump pledged to appoint. He's also close to Oregon's highest ranking GOP elected official, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), whose chief of staff is Bounds' sister.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) quickly announced their displeasure with Trump's pick and said they might seek to block Bounds' Senate confirmation.
But yesterday, Sens. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) and Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) joined Republican lawmakers in asking Wyden and Jeff Merkley to drop their opposition to Bounds' confirmation by the Senate.
In their letter, the lawmakers cited a practical consideration—if Bounds doesn't get the job, it could go to a nominee from another state, because there's nothing that says Oregon has to be represented on the federal appellate bench.
"The Ninth Circuit is the ultimate arbiter of almost all federal cases arising in the West," the senators wrote in a Sept. 19 letter. "Its rulings reach the management of our forests, the flow of our rivers, the harvesting of our crops and the razing of our livestock. The Court's influence over the rural and natural-resource-based economies of our respective districts cannot be overstated. Nevertheless, its judges are concentrated overwhelmingly in California's largest cities—indeed, there are nearly twice as many active judges sitting in California as in the other eight states of the Ninth Circuit combined.
"All Oregonians should be eager to redress this imbalance with the appointment of an accomplished Oregonian without delay rather than risk inviting the President to appoint a candidate of unknown merit and temperament from another state."