Hmm. Biden set to a nominate Republican pro-life lawyer to the federal bench in Kentucky

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

It’s an odd twist of events, especially given how vocal Biden has been in his criticism of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health. In his first solo press conference in months, Biden said in Madrid today that the Court’s ruling is “outrageous”. So, a report that Biden agreed to nominate a conservative pro-life Republican to the federal bench in Kentucky is newsworthy.

The nominee-to-be is Chad Meredith. The Courier-Journal in Louisville reports that Meredith, Kentucky’s former deputy counsel to former Governor Matt Bevin’s during term as governor, will be nominated when a vacancy opens up. This unusual development is thanks to a deal struck between Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. Meredith is a member of the Federalist Society. Most recently, he served as solicitor general for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is now seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2023.

“The nomination of Chad Meredith appears to be the result of a deal with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, ostensibly in exchange for the Senate Majority Leader agreeing not to hold up future federal nominations by the Biden White House, according to [Rep. John] Yarmuth and other officials who confirmed the pending nomination to The Courier Journal”

That’s a typo in the quote from Politico. It should read the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell. The piece in the Courier-Journal uses McConnell’s proper title. I do look forward to McConnell being the Majority Leader after the midterm elections in November, though.

Anyway, a deal has been made and Republicans will get another judge on a federal bench. That’s good news. Rep. Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville who is not running for re-election, isn’t happy.

President Joe Biden is poised to nominate a conservative Republican anti-abortion lawyer for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge in Kentucky, a nomination strongly opposed by fellow Democrat and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville.

Yarmuth told The Courier Journal in a statement Wednesday he vehemently opposes the nomination and the apparent deal Biden struck with McConnell.

“Given that a judicial position isn’t currently open on the Eastern District Court, it’s clear that this is part of some larger deal on judicial nominations between the president and Mitch McConnell,” Yarmuth stated.

“I strongly oppose this deal and Meredith being nominated for the position. The last thing we need is another extremist on the bench.”

C’est la vie, John. McConnell got what he wanted and Schumer mostly gets what he wants. That’s deal-making and McConnell is a pro at it. As it is, there are no current vacancies for federal judgeships in Kentucky’s Eastern District. The only way forward for Meredith’s nomination is if a sitting judge steps down, retires, or moves to senior status. One judge, Eastern District Judge Danny C. Reeves, is eligible for senior status on August 1 when he turns 65 years old. One judge, Karen Caldwell, is already eligible. Maybe McConnell expects one of them to vacate the bench.

Meredith’s nomination brings up some of the hullabaloo during the Bevin administration that involved some of the more controversial lawsuits Meredith worked on and some pardons granted by Bevin.

Meredith defended a 2017 Kentucky abortion law requiring doctors who perform abortions to first perform an ultrasound and describe the image to the patient.

He lost at a trial in federal court but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld the statute.

As the top appellate lawyer for Cameron, Meredith also successfully defended a state law in the Kentucky Supreme Court that strippedGov. Beshear of his emergency power to implement COVID-19 restrictions.

The Courier Journal reported in 2020 that Meredith was one of the staff attorneys involved in Bevin’s controversial pardons and commutations at the end of his term in 2019.

Bevin administration documents showed Meredith was one of Bevin’s general counsel staff to give recommendations to the governor on whether certain applicants deserve clemency.

One spreadsheet of clemency applicants from those records showed “Chad working” written next to the name of Patrick Baker — one of the most controversial pardon recipients, who was convicted of killing a man in a robbery and whose family hosted a fundraiser for Bevin at his home.

At one time, Meredith was being vetted for a federal judgeship in 2020 by the Trump administration but he was later taken off the list for consideration.

Meredith’s attorney said that his client had “no meaningful involvement with any of the most controversial pardons about which the media has made much.” It is not unusual for some pardons to become controversial and some go very wrong later. Apparently, McConnell decided it was worth it to make the deal with Schumer. We’ll see what Senate Democrats do when and if Meredith’s nomination is brought to a vote.