Trump Judicial Nom Accidentally Followed The Constitution Once, So He's (Probably) OUT OF HERE!
Halil Suleyman Ozerden has been a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi since 2007, after being nominated by George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate. Trump has nominated him for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Both of Mississippi's conservative Republican Senators, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker, back Judge Ozerden's nomination. But for others in the right wing of the Republican party, Judge Ozerden just isn't crazy enough.
In a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, several Republicans expressed their concerns about Judge Ozerden's record. In particular, they have problems with the fact that Judge Ozerden dismissed a case challenging the ACA's contraceptive mandate that had been filed by the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.
Let's be clear: Judge Ozerden didn't even reach the merits of the ACA case -- he dismissed the case because it wasn't ripe for adjudication. If a case is "ripe," it's ready to be heard by the court. Ripeness is a constitutional issue that courts have to decide before they can get to the merits; because Article III of the Constitution says federal courts can only hear actual cases or controversies, a party has to be wronged before they can sue over it. Because the Department of Health and Human Services was still working to create new rules to allow religious groups a workaround to the contraceptive mandate, Judge Ozerden ruled that the case wasn't ripe. He also dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning the Catholic Diocese would be able to file the case again, after the DHHS rules had been finalized.
This is pretty standard legal stuff that law students cover in their 1L constitutional law classes, so it shouldn't be much of an issue, right? Wrong. Because Judge Ozerden followed the constitution and binding precedent in this case, Senate Republicans and several other whack-jobs are raising hell.
Ted Cruz, who's definitely not the Zodiac Killer, even used Judge Ozerden's dismissal of this case on constitutional grounds to question the judge's record as a "constitutionalist," saying, "Looking at your record, as you know I've got significant concerns because I don't see any positive substantive evidence of a judicial record that frankly we need strong constitutionalists on the Fifth Circuit."
bootlicker Senator Joni Ernst expressed similar concerns, saying "I think the concerns that I have are the same concerns that maybe some of the other people have and it's more focused on the Obamacare birth control mandate. I have issues with that."
Judge Ozerden's record has also been criticized by the white supremacists over at Breitbart. As noted by Judicial Crisis Network counsel Carrie Severino,
According to Ken Klukowski of Breitbart, "rumors are circulating in D.C. that some establishment politicians are pressuring the president to appoint a judge who has a mixed record and no true conservative credentials." He writes, "Ozerden's time on the federal trial bench shows a consistent pattern of refusing to lead or to take a stand on important legal issues."
It should go without saying that anyone who seriously cites to Nazi news outlets like Breitbart is a per se asshole, but Carrie Severino is so much more than your regular average sycophant. She has been a vocal defender of accused sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh, arguing outlandishly that the people who opposed the accused attempted rapist's nomination need to be "held accountable."
So that's cute.
Judge Ozerden's nomination is also opposed by psychopath Erick Erickson, whose ridiculous name pales in comparison to his grotesque personality, and Josh Hammer, who works for an anti-LGBT "religious liberty" organization and really hates pro bono work.
Senator Wicker, who still backs Judge Ozerden, said, "I do fully support him. I think he is an excellent choice. I think he would be a solid member of the conservative majority and the conservative movement."
Don't you miss the good ole days, when we at least pretended that judges were supposed to be impartial?
Senator John Kennedy has told Politico that he didn't know whether Judge Ozerden will be confirmed.
It has also been reported that Judge Ozerden is having issues with his FBI background check, which several Senators have received briefings about. This is interesting, because Judge Ozerden is a sitting federal judge, and would have had to go through a background check before his appointment in 2007. No one has spoken publicly about what those issues might be.
There may very well be good reasons that Judge Ozerden should not be confirmed to the Fifth Circuit -- one of them perhaps being that he sided with an employer after an employee was called the n-word and had nooses hung at his worksite. But the idea that this member of the Federalist Society who was put on the federal bench by George W. Bush isn't conservative is ridiculous. We have to wonder whether we would be having the same discussion if he were the son of Mississippi farmers and named John Smith, and not the son of Turkish immigrants, named Halil Suleyman Ozerden.
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