President Joe Biden will not be backing off plans to nominate an anti-abortion attorney to a lifetime federal judgeship in Kentucky, despite strong opposition from Democrats and reproductive rights groups, in accordance with a source recently briefed on the White House’s plans.
White House officials have refused to speak about Chad Meredith ever because the Louisville Courier-Journal reported late last month that he’s the president’s pick for a soon-to-be vacant U.S. District Court seat in eastern Kentucky. The newspaper even provided copies of June 23 emails from the White House to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) confirming Biden’s plan to nominate Meredith, a member of the conservative Federalist Society who has fought abortion rights.
The White House initially told Beshear that Meredith can be nominated the following day, on June 24. But that turned out to be the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and the nomination didn’t occur. Now it’s just crickets.
“I’m just not ― we just don’t comment on ― on vacancies, whether executive branch or judicial, in situations where now we have not made a nomination,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Wednesday, when asked about Meredith. “We just haven’t made a nomination on this yet.”
However the news is out, and Biden is facing fire from his own party and allies. Beshear called such a nomination “indefensible,” and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said “the last item we’d like is one other extremist on the bench.” Eight national abortion rights groups issued a rare joint statement calling Meredith “unacceptable at any time, but especially on the heels of six Supreme Court justices taking away a fundamental right from hundreds of thousands of individuals.”
Late Monday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, similarly raised concerns in regards to the prospect of Biden appointing Meredith to a lifetime federal court seat.
“I don’t think that is the type of individual that a Democratic majority should placed on the bench,” Kaine told HuffPost.
It might need gave the impression of the White House has been backing off Meredith’s potential nomination given its silence in response to the Democratic outcry. But behind the scenes, the White House is outwardly signaling that it still plans to maneuver forward along with his nomination.
“They’re defending it,” the source briefed last week on the White House’s plan told HuffPost, after requesting anonymity as a way to speak freely about private conversations.
This source also believes that Meredith would likely be announced as part of a big package of judicial nominees that might include many picks that Democrats do like.
President Joe Biden appears to be considering nominating Chad Meredith, a Kentucky attorney with a record of fighting abortion rights, for a lifetime federal judgeship.
Lexington Herald-Leader via Getty Images
None of this is about in stone. It’s not clear what Biden could also be hoping to get in return for nominating Meredith. It’s also not clear when such a package of nominees may be announced, whether it is in any respect.
However the president’s plan to potentially nominate Meredith could also be a part of a cope with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to hurry up other judicial nominees through a deadlocked Senate, especially ahead of the November midterm elections that would cost Democrats control of the chamber. A McConnell aide previously said he had “great respect for Chad,” when he was being considered for a unique court seat in 2019.
A bit-noticed detail lends support to the thought of Meredith being a part of a package deal, too: In the e-mail the White House sent to Beshear indicating its plan to nominate Meredith, White House officials appear to have simply cut and pasted White House language about Meredith into the e-mail ― including the number eight right before Meredith’s name, as if he’s one in a listing of nominees being lumped together.
Here’s a screen shot of how the language about Meredith appears within the White House email, via the Courier-Journal:
Greater than two dozen progressive organizations last month urged Biden to fill each court emptiness by the tip of the yr, given how way more difficult it’s going to be for Democrats to substantiate judges if Republicans win control of the Senate. It’s possible that the president is taking this approach seriously in light of Meredith’s nomination ― i.e., giving McConnell a nominee he wants in exchange for him not obstructing numerous other court picks ― though this is probably going not the type of trade-off progressive groups were envisioning.
A White House spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for comment.
A McConnell spokesperson also didn’t reply to a request for comment.