Northern California Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

California's senators look to block Trump's nomination to federal bench for a second time

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By Adam Hochron | Sep 24, 2019

Patrick Bumatay

SAN FRANCISCO – A California attorney whose nomination to the federal bench was stymied by the state’s Democratic senators has been given a second chance by President Donald Trump in a move that has garnered support and drawn some objections, particularly from Sen. Kamala Harris.

For the second time in his presidency, Trump nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Bumatay to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Bumatay currently works in the Southern District of California in the Appellate and Narcotics Section. He had initially been nominated to the court last October, but the nomination was stalled due in large part to a procedural block by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. 

Now, almost a year after his name was initially put forward, the debate over his nomination has resumed.

“Sen. Feinstein and Harris are acting disgracefully by mindlessly blocking Patrick Bumatay,” Mike Davis, founder and president of the Article III Project, told the Northern California Record in July. “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 had previously told the Washington Times that while Bumatay’s original nomination to the federal bench had expired he was worthy of a second chance, calling him a “phenomenal addition to the Ninth Circuit.” 

Attorney and political analyst Gayle Trotter insists that Bumatay is highly qualified.

"In nominating Patrick Bumatay to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, President Trump has continued to fulfill his promise of placing highly qualified people on the federal courts," Trotter said. "His outstanding career as a lawyer and public servant includes clerking for Tenth Circuit Judge Timothy Tymkovich and serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California where he has argued cases before the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Bumatay served in various high-level positions at the Department of Justice for a decade under three different presidents. As a judge on the 9th Circuit, Patrick will honor the Constitution and the rule of law." 

Bumatay also has the support of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions who said he has all the qualities of being a federal judge including “integrity, intellect and collegiality,” reports Judicial Crisis Network.

Sessions, who was forced out by Trump after a contentious term, said Bumatay’s “fidelity to the text of the constitution is exactly what this country needs.” 

Bumatay had worked as a counselor for Sessions when he was Attorney General.

Bumatay’s nomination could prove to be another battlefield for Trump and Harris. The state’s junior senator is one of a large group of Democrats running to face Trump in the 2020 presidential election. In a statement to The Hill, Harris called Bumatay a “highly flawed nominee” and said that she would not support his nomination.

“In once again nominating Mr. Bumatay to the 9th Circuit, it is clear the White House is doing so to advance a political agenda and remake the federal judiciary,” Harris’ statement said.

Harris said in her statement to The Hill that the nominee “has a troubling prosecutorial record, lacks the requisite experience, and has drawn criticism from members of California’s legal community, across party lines.”

While it is unclear what impact the objections of Harris and Feinstein will have on Bumatay’s nomination, if approved, he would be the first Filipino-American to serve on a federal appeals court.

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