WASHINGTON (AP) — California’s two Democratic senators are asking the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to postpone a hearing on a Los Angeles lawyer nominated as a federal appeals court judge, saying the nominee hadn’t turned over his controversial writings for review.
Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein asked Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham not to move forward with a hearing Wednesday on Kenneth Lee’s nomination to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A spokeswoman for the committee said the hearing will proceed as scheduled.
Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, said in a letter with Harris on Monday that Lee repeatedly failed to provide dozens of controversial writings, including on voting rights, race and civil rights.
The senators said Lee’s refusal to turn over the documents obstructs the Senate’s vetting process for judicial nominees and suggests he “may continue to hold extreme and controversial views” outside the judicial mainstream.
Lee’s lack of cooperation is “a breach of the committee’s standards and processes — it is not a partisan issue,” the senators wrote.
Among the controversial writings Lee failed to disclose is one titled “Ebonics at Cornell,” in which Lee defended students who translated Africana Studies course descriptions into Ebonics, a variation of English that includes slang and shortened words and is considered by some as racially offensive. For example, the students translated “History and Politics of Racism and Segregation” to “Dis Gotsa Do Wif Racism and Segregation in America and Souf Africa.”
In the article, Lee wrote: “If the Oakland School Board provides politically correct, feel-good nonsense to poor urban blacks, Cornell University does the same for middle-class and affluent blacks.”
In the past month, Lee submitted to the committee more than 75 articles that he failed to submit to in-state nominating commissions, the senators wrote.
“A nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench must be forthcoming and demonstrate respect for the prerogatives of the United States. It is clear that Mr. Lee’s production of materials to the committee has not been “true and accurate,’ ” they added.
Harris and Feinstein did not sign off on Lee or two other White House nominees for open California seats on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a breach of a longtime Senate custom that gives lawmakers a chance to weigh in on a judicial nominee from their home state by submitting a blue-colored form called the “blue slip.” A positive blue slip signals the Senate can move forward with the nomination process.
President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate have ignored the blue-slip tradition, most recently by approving Seattle attorney Eric Miller for a 9th Circuit seat despite opposition from his home-state senators, both Democrats.
The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit is the nation’s largest federal appeals court and hears cases from nine Western states. Republicans have accused the court of having a liberal slant and have moved to break it up — an effort supported by Trump.