Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pulled the nomination of Ryan Bounds to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from the Senate floor after it became clear Thursday that a number of Republicans would oppose him over racially-charged writings in Bounds’s record.
The move came after Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) on Thursday morning flagged Bounds’s past commentary with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The Florida senator then reviewed the record of Bounds, who was nominated by President Donald Trump. Rubio, who had grown close to Scott during his 2016 White House campaign, soon after sided with Scott against the nomination, according to two people familiar the matter.
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Scott had first raised concerns about Bounds on Wednesday, and spoke to the nominee on the telephone. After talking with Rubio on Thursday, the two senators met with Bounds in person. But neither conversation persuaded them.
“The nominee was not able to alleviate Scott’s concerns to show how he had grown since the writings from his younger days,” said one of the people.
Scott then met with McConnell about the matter, before airing his concerns at a Senate GOP lunch on Thursday. By the end of the meeting a number of other Republicans pledged to sink what would have been Trump’s twenty-fourth Circuit Court nominee. It became clear that the nomination was in trouble as the vote was delayed nearly an hour while Senate Republicans debated what to do about the doomed nomination.
McConnell then pulled the nomination from the Senate floor and said the nomination would be withdrawn.
As an undergraduate at Stanford, Bounds, now 45, had lamented organizations on campus that “divide up by race for their feel-good ethnic hoedowns” and called for those groups to be discontinued, among other racially charged remarks, according to a report from the Alliance for Justice. Those remarks were enough to turn off all 49 Senate Democrats, even the most conservative ones up for reelection this fall. All voted to block Bounds on Wednesday.
All 50 Republicans in attendance voted to advance the Bounds nomination on Wednesday, but after Rubio and Scott pledged to vote against the nominee’s final confirmation vote on Thursday, there was no way for the nomination to pass the Senate. Rather than hold a failed vote and put his members on the record on Bounds, the nomination was pulled from the floor.
“The nominee misled the committee and because the writings were of deep concern, the individual was not qualified to serve on the bench,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
Merkley and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said they spoke to Republicans about their concerns about Bounds.
Bounds’s failed nomination marks the second defeat of a high-profile Trump nominee this year. Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson withdrew his nomination after Democrats released damaging information about his work record in the White House.