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Chase Brown · June 29, 2018

Trump Recently Nominated Two Ohioans to the Federal Court of Appeals. Here’s Why Sherrod Brown is Opposing Them.

This month, President Trump announced he was nominating Ohio State Solicitor Eric Murphy and Chad Readler – a Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Those nominations – should they be approved with the “advise and consent” of United States Senate – will be lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

Soon after the nominations were announced, Senator Sherrod Brown voiced his opposition, stating that “I cannot support nominees who have actively worked to strip Ohioans of their rights. Special interests already have armies of lobbyists and lawyers on their side, they don’t need judges in their pockets.”

Brown is not alone in his opposition. The Alliance for Justice, a national progressive group that tracks judicial nominations, also strongly came out against the nominations by expressing the following:

“Chad Readler and Eric Murphy do not belong on the federal bench. Readler is a hardcore foe of public schools who has tried to destroy the right to public education in Ohio. His record reads like a catalog of extreme far-right positions: he’s fought voting rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, and consumers’ rights. Murphy’s record is no better: he also worked to undermine the right to vote in Ohio, has defended attacks on reproductive rights, and fought marriage equality. These individuals would pose serious threats to the rights and liberties of people in the Sixth Circuit if they were to become federal judges.”

The Alliance’s public school reference regarding Readler likely alludes to his prior work as the head of the now defunct Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Additionally, he notably attempted to remove the provision in the Ohio Constitution that guarantees that Ohio students have access to a “thorough and efficient” public school system.  

Since the initial pushback against these nominations, further controversy has swirled specifically around Readler’s central role in the Trump Administration’s recent decision to argue in federal court that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and pre-existing conditions protections are unconstitutional. Readler ultimately filed the brief arguing for the overturning of the ACA after three career Department of Justice attorneys withdrew from the case presumably in protest over Trump’s unusual decision to undermine the ACA in court in what was a departure from prior protocol.

Given their controversial legal records, it is no surprise that there has been significant pushback against their nominations to a lifetime position on the federal bench. Republicans have used their total control of the federal government to aggressively confirm conservative justices – having confirmed 42 individuals to federal courts since Trump took office. A recent analysis by the Washington Post found that Trump’s court appointees are more conservative than those appointed by recent Presidents. They’re also more likely to be a white male, a reversal of a trend towards ethnic and gender diversity that has been going on for over 25 years.

Rob Portman, the Junior Senator from Ohio, supports both Murphy and Readler’s nominations. It is highly likely that unless Portman has a change of heart, both men will be hearing cases in the Sixth Circuit for many years to come.

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