Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden had objected to Ryan Bounds’ nomination, highlighting writings from Bounds’ years at Stanford that they said revealed alarming views on race, workers’ rights and the gay community.
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly withdrew one of President Donald Trump’s appellate-court nominees Thursday when it became apparent he did not have enough support.
The decision came minutes before the confirmation vote and after senators voiced concerns about his college writings.
McConnell indicated the administration would withdraw the nomination of Ryan Bounds, an assistant U.S. attorney in Oregon, to serve on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Republicans have been able to use their thin majority to push several of Trump’s nominees through despite overwhelming Democratic opposition. Arizona Sen. John McCain’s absence has given the GOP even less cushion, with Republicans holding a 50-49 voting edge.
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That edge evaporated when Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said he needed more information about Bounds.
“After talking with the nominee last night and meeting with him today, I had unanswered questions that led to me being unable to support him,” Scott said.
A person familiar with Scott’s thinking said he had concerns about some of Bounds’ writings. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Scott was not detailing his concerns publicly.
Scott said he felt he needed “more information,” and other Republicans joined him in asking for that. He said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was one of those senators.
Oregon’s Democratic senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, had objected to the nomination, saying the Trump administration hadn’t consulted them about it. They highlighted writings from Bounds’ years at Stanford University they said revealed alarming views on race, workers’ rights and the gay community. They also complained that Bounds did not provide his Stanford Review opinion columns to a judicial-selection committee in Oregon that makes recommendations for federal judges.
Bounds, 45, was asked about the writings during the confirmation hearing and in questionnaires submitted by senators, and he apologized. In one column titled “Lo! A Pestilence Stalks Us,” he appeared to mock LGBT students as being too sensitive when a group of intoxicated athletes vandalized a statue celebrating gay pride. In the same column, he seemed to mock Latino students for being too sensitive when they complained about the termination of a Latino administrator.
Bounds said the article didn’t show sufficient respect for the concerns of the students involved. “I apologize for that; it is not in keeping with how I have lived my life,” Bounds said.
Bounds also told senators that he did not believe he needed to submit pre-law school writings to the judicial-selection committee.
“Senator Wyden’s office explicitly told me the committee sought to review materials going back only ‘as far as law school,’ and so I identified and (to the extent practicable) produced all such materials without regard to whether they were potentially controversial,” Bounds said.
While Democrats objected to Bounds’ writings and the process used to advance him, Republican senators focused on his work as a lawyer.
Democrats were incensed that Republicans were moving ahead despite the objections of both home-state senators, saying the GOP was discarding Senate courtesy and tradition.
Merkley and Wyden said they had spoken in detail with colleagues in recent days about Bounds but were afraid the issue was getting lost.