August 24, 2019

Ted Cruz questions conservative credentials of Trump judicial nominee

Ted Cruz questions conservative credentials of Trump judicial nominee



Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday said he has “significant concerns” over the judicial record of President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, signaling that some Republicans may not be on board with the president’s pick.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Cruz (R-Texas) questioned Halil Suleyman “Sul” Ozerden’s record as a constitutionalist. His remarks come amid broader Republican concerns about Ozerden’s judicial record.

“Looking at your record, as you know I’ve got significant concerns because I don’t see any positive substantive evidence of a judicial record that frankly we need strong constitutionalists on the Fifth Circuit,” Cruz said.

Trump nominated Ozerden in June, at the urging of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, a friend of the nominee who served as one of his groomsmen. Ozerden also has significant support from his home state senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi.

Ozerden has come under particular scrutiny for granting the Obama administration’s motion to dismiss a case from the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi that challenged the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate in 2012. Ozerden said that the case was not ripe for a formal decision because of the regulation’s status.

“I have to say there are a lot things about that opinion that concern me,” Cruz said, and pressed Ozerden on the reasoning for denying the plaintiffs oral arguments.

Cruz was not the only Republican senator to raise concerns about the Obamacare case. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) were among the senators asking for Ozerden to explain his decision.

Ozerden defended his record as a constitutionalist and said that he was merely following Fifth Circuit precedent. He said that a ruling on the Obamacare case would have been hypothetical and that he dismissed the case without prejudice so the case could be filed again.

“The notion that I am hostile to religious liberty is simply not accurate,” Ozerden said.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine



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