President Joe Biden and other leading Democrats have been slammed for a shockingly weak response to the fall of Roe v. Wade and the end of nationwide legal abortion.
And now, Biden has apparently cut a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to nominate an anti-abortion lawyer to a federal judgeship in eastern Kentucky, a state where Republican state legislators are currently fighting in federal court to implement a “trigger” ban on performing abortions except to protect the life and health of the pregnant person passed in 2019. (A Kentucky state court granted a restraining order against the law Thursday.)
The terms of the deal are that Biden will appoint Chad Meredith, a conservative former Solicitor General of Kentucky who defended a state law to close Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic, in exchange for McConnell’s promise not block future federal nominations from Biden for the rest of the year, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
There are no current vacancies on the District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, so Meredith would not be eligible for nomination until another judge on the court retires or moves to senior status and takes on a reduced caseload, the Courier-Journal reported.
Neither the White House nor McConnell’s office would comment on the plan when asked by the Courier-Journal, but it was nonetheless confirmed by Rep. John Yarmuth, Kentucky’s lone Democrat in Congress.
“Given that a judicial position isn’t currently open on the Eastern District Court, it’s clear that this is part of some larger deal on judicial nominations between the president and Mitch McConnell,” Yarmuth told the Courier-Journal.
“I strongly oppose this deal and Meredith being nominated for the position. The last thing we need is another extremist on the bench.”
The apparent deal comes as the White House has been sharply criticized for its reluctance to answer the ruling overturning Roe and other decisions by the right-wing Supreme Court with a push to expand the court or otherwise reduce the Court’s power, or take decisive steps to protect abortion rights at the federal level.
But Biden and officials in his administration are “concerned that more radical moves would be politically polarizing ahead of November’s midterm elections, undermine public trust in institutions like the Supreme Court or lack strong legal footing,” Reuters reported Wednesday.
Following the backlash, Biden announced Thursday that he supported a carve-out “exception” to the filibuster to codify abortion rights, which he has also said he would support for voting rights.
Following the leak of the draft of the Dobbs abortion case opinion in May, Sinema said in a statement criticizing the opinion that “protections in the Senate safeguarding against the erosion of women’s access to health care have been used half-a-dozen times in the past ten years, and are more important now than ever.”
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