U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
SAN FRANCISCO – Democrat U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris are continuing to block President Donald Trump’s appointed nominee, Patrick Bumatay, from filling a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in a move that has sparked much controversy.
The 41-year-old Bumatay, an openly gay Filipino man, has eyed an open seat on the notoriously liberal West Coast Ninth Circuit appeals court since last October when Trump first nominated him to fill the place of Judge Alex Kozinski. However, due to push back against the nomination from the Democrat senators, Bumatay was instead nominated for the district court.
“They complained about lack of consultation when Mr. Bumatay was first pondered for the appeals court, and have yet to return their blue slips, a Senate tradition showing approval of a nominee, for his nomination to the district court,” according to a recent Washington Times story.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
But now, with another seat on the Ninth Circuit opening up when Judge Carlos Bea, a George W. Bush appointee, takes his senior status, Bumatay may have another opening. Bumatay’s supporters have not been shy in backing him, as former federal public defender Matthew Pritchard wrote in a letter addressed to Feinstein and Harris that he shared with The Northern California Record.
“Patrick was (and is) an exemplar in this regard," Pritchard wrote. "He was an effective prosecutor with a stellar record, but his success in the courtroom never came from cutting corners or sacrificing defendants’ basic rights. Patrick knew that a government ‘win’ at the expense of our most-cherished constitutional values was no win at all. His practice always reflected that knowledge, which is one of many reasons he is well regarded among both judges and the public defense community.”
Mike Davis, founder and president of the Article III Project, which “fights for the confirmation of President Trump’s judicial nominees,” said that “Sens. Feinstein and Harris are acting disgracefully by mindlessly blocking Patrick Bumatay. They should explain why they believe that Bumatay — a Harvard Law grad, former federal appellate law clerk, and current career federal prosecutor in San Diego — is somehow not even worthy of a hearing before their colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
Davis and the Article III Project are advocating that the President nominate Bumatay for the Ninth Circuit opening. “It shows utter hypocrisy for Sens. Feinstein and Harris to claim that they support LGBT and other diverse nominees while blocking a gay, Filipino man for the federal bench,” he concluded.
Harris, an early Democratic presidential candidate, has been outspoken when it comes to defending the LGBTQ community on similar federal court issues.
“It’s unbelievable that during #PrideMonth, Republicans have decided to vote on the nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk for a lifetime position to the federal bench. Kacsmaryk has filed briefs opposing marriage equality and defending anti-transgender bathroom policies. I'm voting no,” she posted on Twitter on June 19.
Because of Harris’ track record of supporting both the LGBTQ and the minority communities, many pundits are left with more questions than answers and have attributed the Yale and Harvard educated Bumatay’s lack of support from West Coast politicians directly to his association with Trump.
The president has appointed six judges to the appeals court, which currently has two vacancies. There is currently no set date for when Bea plans to take senior status and make the seat available. The Ninth Circuit hears appeals from Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, California, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii.
Senators Harris and Feinstein did not respond to The Record's request for comment.