California senators angry over White House move forward with appeals court nominations

By John Breslin | Oct 15, 2018

SACRAMENTO - California's two U.S. Senators reacted with anger over the nomination by the White House of three individuals to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The White House announced Wednesday the nominations of the three - assistant U.S Attorney Patrick J. Bumatay, Los Angeles, and private attorneys Daniel P. Collins and Kenneth Kiyul Lee. 

A fourth, Ryan Douglas Nelson, nominated in July, was narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate Thursday as only one Democratic Senator, Doug Jones of Alabama, voted for him. He was most recently general counsel of health care and home products company Melaleuca.

Democratic Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris said the White House moved forward without consulting them, a normal practice in all states when it comes to federal judicial appointments.

"I repeatedly told the White House I wanted to reach an agreement on a package of 9th Circuit nominees, but last night the White House moved forward without consulting me," Feinstein said in a statement, a characterization denied by the White House.

Feinstein said these "were controversial candidates from its initial list and another individual with no judicial experience who had not previously been suggested."

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, White House counsel sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday.

He said the White House tried to work with the California senators.

“We have made more attempts to consult, and devoted more time to that state than any other in the country,” White House counsel Don McGahn said in the letter. He added that Harris did not “engage with the White House at any level, whatsoever on the issue.”

In her statement, Feinstein said, "I met with Don McGahn on June 27 to discuss the vacancies and explained that Senator Harris and I strongly opposed Daniel Collins.

"I also told him Kenneth Lee had problems because he failed to disclose to our judicial selection committees controversial writings on voting rights and affirmative action."

Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams told the Sacramento Bee, "Instead of working with our office to identify consensus nominees for the 9th Circuit, the White House continues to try to pack the courts with partisan judges who will blindly support the president’s agenda, instead of acting as an independent check on this administration."

In a biography issued by the White House, prosecutor Bumatay is currently a member of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces Section.

"He is currently detailed to the Office of the Attorney General, where he serves as Counselor to the Attorney General on various criminal issues, including the national opioid strategy and transnational organized crime," the biography stated.

Bumatay has served positions in the Department of Justice, where he has spent most of his career.

Following law school, Bumatay clerked for Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Court. He also clerked for Judge Sandra Townes of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Bumatay graduated from Yale University and from Harvard Law School.He is a member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, and the Federal Bar Association.

Collins is a partner with Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles. He specializes in federal appellate court litigation. The White House said the nominee has argued 36 cases in the Ninth Circuit.

Previously, he was associate Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on combating child pornography and abuse. He also worked previously as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District.

The nominee graduated from Harvard College and Stanford University, where he was a member of the Stanford Law Review.

Kenneth Kiyul Lee, is a partner with Jenner and Block of Los Angeles, where the majority of his work relates to appellate litigation and internal investigations. He has argued before federal courts of appeal. He is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School.

A further nominees to the District Court were named by the White House, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stanley Blumenfeld, Jeremy Rosen, a partner with Los Angeles-based Horvitz & Levy LLP, and Mark Scarsi, a partner at the law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy LLP.  

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