By: Kevin Daley
The nomination of Ryan Bounds for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was withdrawn Thursday, in a dramatic last-minute reversal after two Republican lawmakers joined with Democrats to block his confirmation on the Senate floor.
GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina withheld his support for Bounds during Thursday’s vote, citing racially tinged opinion columns Bounds wrote as a college student at Stanford University. GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida joined Scott, putting Bounds’s nomination on track to fail 49-48.
“Sen. Scott raised some concerns yesterday about the nomination and I think it became apparent the nominee was not going to prevail,” GOP Sen. John Cornyn told reporters after the vote. “The White House decided under the circumstances to withdraw the nomination and so that’s where we are.”
A Rubio spokesman said the senator was also troubled that Bounds failed to submit these writings to lawmakers while he was being vetted for the post. Bounds’s supporters say Senate staffers asked for writing materials going back as far as his law school — not undergraduate — days.
Whatever his disclosure obligations, lawmakers in both parties tend to look askance on nominees who prove less than candid.
The Alliance for Justice (AFJ), a progressive advocacy group, first uncovered and promoted the articles. According to their review, Bounds wrote regular columns as a college student for a conservative weekly called the Stanford Review, which are intensely critical of student activist clubs and campus multiculturalism policies. Taken together, Democrats charged that his writings betray an intolerant worldview.
One piece condemned campus organizations that “divide up by race for their feel-good ethnic hoedowns.” Another urged administrators not to expel students accused of rape.
Bounds has since apologized for the pieces. Supporters of his nomination argued nominees should not be held accountable for the ill-considered exuberances of youth.
After graduating from Stanford and Yale Law School, Bounds clerked for Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a conservative icon on the 9th Circuit. He practiced at a prominent law firm in Portland, Oregon, before joining the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy, where he served for six years. He has been a federal prosecutor in Oregon since 2010.
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