WASHINGTON D.C. — Senate Republican leaders reportedly plan to try to advance dozens of Trump's judicial nominations during the lame-duck session. Many of the 35 judicial nominees ready for floor action lack proper vetting and some lack the basic qualifications expected of a federal judge, such as a qualified rating from the American Bar Association. Planned Parenthood is sounding the alarm on McConnell’s efforts to advance this large group of nominees for lifetime appointments with this irresponsible process, and opposes nominees with hostile views on reproductive rights — including Wendy Vitter, Jonathan Kobes, Matthew Kacsmaryk, and Michael Truncale.
The announcement comes as Congress returns to session and McConnell doubles down on efforts to confirm all 35 nominees before December 14th. McConnell’s attempt to pressure senators to expedite the confirmation of lifetime judicial nominees is part of a broader strategy by the Trump-Pence administration to stack the federal courts with conservative, anti-abortion judges by any means necessary. To this point, Ninety percent of these 35 judges are members of the conservative Federalist Society and some are openly anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ activists.
Statement from Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
Courts around the country rule on people’s health every day, and voters have sent a clear message that they want expanded access, not more attacks on their health care from the Trump administration. Nominees like Vitter, Kobes, Kacsmaryk, and Truncale, with extreme anti-abortion and anti-reproductive health records, should be called into serious question. Planned Parenthood Action Fund and our supporters call on senators to vote ‘no’ on their confirmation and reject any nominations package that would rush through lifetime appointments without a full debate and put people's health at risk for generations.
Trump has appointed a record number of federal judges and confirmed more circuit court nominees than any president in modern history at this point in their term. Following Trump’s promise to appoint judges that would overturn Roe v. Wade, most of these nominees are extremely conservative, and many hold views that are hostile to reproductive health and rights.
For example, of the 35 judges, Trump’s nominees include:
- Wendy Vitter, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Nominee: Vitter has received the lowest qualified rating by the American Bar Association. Vitter made headlines last spring for withholding information from the Senate Judiciary committee about her anti-abortion record, publicly misrepresenting her background in a confirmation hearing, and failing to state whether landmark cases Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade were correctly decided. One of the activities Vitter omitted was how she moderated an anti-abortion panel, where she promoted the baseless claim that women who take contraceptive pills are more likely to die violent deaths.
- Jonathan Kobes, Eighth Circuit Nominee: Kobes has been rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association and represented a fake women’s health center in South Dakota, defending a state law requiring physicians to make deceptive statements to women seeking abortion care, including disproven claims about the risk of suicide. He even stated that abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.
- Matthew Kacsmaryk, District Court of the Northern District of Texas Nominee:Kacsmaryk has represented religiously affiliated institutions which oppose the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive-coverage policy, advancing arguments that falsely equate certain methods of contraception to abortion. Kacsmaryk has also disputed the legal foundation of Roe v. Wade, and has argued that the legal right to abortion has weakened the institution of marriage.
- Michael Truncale, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Nominee:Truncale has called for “defunding” Planned Parenthood, boasted about marching in an anti-abortion rally, and has criticized former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who undertook a 13-hour filibuster to delay a vote on a restrictive anti-abortion bill. Mr. Truncale’s speech notes say: “Wendy Davis’ Claim to fame – kills little girls” and “she wants to kill babies five months into term.”
As more and more anti-abortion bills are signed into laws in the states, courts are often the only line of defense to protect our rights — including the right to control our own bodies guaranteed by Roe v. Wade.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.