Christopher Kang

  • November 14, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board member and former Deputy Counsel to President Obama

    *This piece originally ran on Huffington Post

    On May 8, 2017, President Trump announced that he intended to nominate Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer to serve as a district judge in the Middle District of Alabama. This nomination would have been President Trump’s first African American judicial nominee, and it’s likely no coincidence that it was announced on the same day as Kevin Newsom for an Alabama-based seat on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Alabama has never had an African American circuit court judge, and Newsom replaced President Obama’s African American nominee, Judge Abdul Kallon, whom Senators Sessions and Shelby had blocked.

  • June 14, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board Member and National Director, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

    Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on two circuit court nominees: John Bush for the Sixth Circuit and Kevin Newsom for the Eleventh Circuit. Many concerns have been raised about these nominees (as well as the third nominee on the hearing, Damien Schiff for the Court of Federal Claims), but setting aside the mertis for just a moment, we cannot lose sight of the process as Chairman Grassley casusally rejects another Senate norm in the interest of rubberstamping President Trump's judicial nominees.

    It has long been the practice of the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider only one circuit court nominee per nomination hearing. Exceptions are rare and usually have extenuating circumstances: the Judiciary Committee held hearings for more than 60 of President Obama’s circuit court nominees, and held a hearing with two circuit court nominees only three times—each time with the support of the minority party.

    As then-Ranking Member Sessions explained—in agreeing to move forward—at a joint hearing for Fourth Circuit Judges James Wynn and Albert Diaz, both of North Carolina:

  • April 3, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board Member and National Director, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

    The Senate Rules provide a 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed, and it appears less and less likely that Neil Gorsuch will be able to meet that threshold. If he cannot, Senate Republicans will face a choice—and yes, it is their choice—as to whether they should unilaterally change the Senate Rules through the nuclear option, so that Supreme Court nominees can be confirmed with just a majority vote.

    Most of the arguments against the nuclear option have focused on institutional interests for both the Senate and the Supreme Court. Retaining the 60-vote threshold would preserve the unique nature of the Senate that encourages broader consensus and less extremism. There also is a concern—on both sides—that reducing the confirmation threshold to a simple majority could lead to more ideological Supreme Court Justices and a more polarized Court.

    Those are compelling reasons in themselves, but there also is a far more practical question that Republicans must consider: How will Senate Democrats respond to this historic power grab? If Democrats follow the Republican response in 2013, it will freeze the Senate for thousands of hours, preventing Republicans from advancing their agenda.

    In November 2013, Senate Democrats invoked the nuclear option to lower the confirmation threshold for lower court and executive branch nominees. In response, over the next 13 months, Republicans forced Democrats to file cloture on 154 nominees, and they forced 131 cloture votes.

  • March 31, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board Member and National Director, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

    Last week, the Washington Post recommended that Democrats should make a deal on Gorsuch by not filibustering his nomination and instead preserving the 60-vote threshold for a future nominee. Yesterday, reports surfaced about efforts to find a last-ditch deal.

    Here are five reasons that a deal does not make sense for Democrats.

    First, Judge Gorsuch’s record. I agree with the Washington Post that “the national interest requires that Democrats judge Mr. Gorsuch ‘on the merits.’” Republicans and Democrats agree that, on the merits, Judge Gorsuch’s record demonstrates that he is a judge in the mold of former Justice Scalia. As Justice Scalia once noted about his own confirmation, “I was known as a conservative then, but I was perceived to be an honest person. I couldn’t get 60 votes today.” The same could be said of Judge Gorsuch.

    In fact, academic studies predict that Judge Gorsuch would be even more conservative than Justice Scalia. According to one study, if confirmed, Judge Gorsuch “might be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court.” Another forecast that Judge Gorsuch would be the most conservative other than Justice Thomas—and that he is one of the most conservative among the candidates hand-selected by the ideologically-driven Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. A third report looked at campaign contributions before becoming a judge and estimated that Judge Gorsuch is more conservative than 87% of all other federal judges.

    Given Judge Gorsuch’s judicial ideology and record, if Democrats do not insist on a 60-vote threshold now, then when would they?

  • March 30, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post

    by Christopher Kang, National Director, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans

    Many Senate Democrats believe that a Supreme Court nominee should be within the mainstream and therefore able to earn the support of 60 Senators. Given the stakes, this hardly seems unreasonable, but Republicans now claim that a 60-vote threshold for judicial nominees would be unfair. Here are the 12 times they insisted on a 60-vote threshold for Obama’s lower court nominees—and, really, once Republicans demanded that a trial court judge in Rhode Island needed 60 votes, shouldn’t Democrats be able to ask for the same for the highest court in the land?

    • Senate Republicans filibustered D.C. Circuit nominee Caitlin Halligan (twice) and 9th Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu, even though both had majority support.
       
    • Senate Republicans filibustered 10th Circuit nominee Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma, even though he was supported by both of his Republican home-state Senators, Inhofe and Coburn. His nomination was not controversial (as evidenced by his 93-0 confirmation eight months later) but Republicans set an arbitrary cut-off date for confirmations during the 2012 presidential election year—similar to their historic mistreatment of Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court last year.