WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – Since January 2021, Senate Democrats have confirmed 136 of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees to federal courts and 551 of his appointees to other executive-branch positions, leading to dramatic leftward shifts in federal regulations and interpretation of the law. But Republicans have had some success this year in blocking some of the most extreme picks, thanks in large part to the efforts of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Cruz, who is the GOP’s ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, spoke with the Daily Caller earlier this month about his and his colleagues’ success in stopping three Biden appointees in the first five months of 2023, before they managed to make it out of committee, by ensuring a united front of opposition among Republicans and even peeling off a few Democrat votes.
“First was Gigi Sohn, an extreme leftwing partisan, whom President Biden had nominated to be on the Federal Communications Commission,” Cruz said. “And had she been confirmed, she would have used that incredibly powerful regulatory board to silence and censor views with which she disagrees. My team and I worked hand-in-hand with every Republican in the Commerce Committee to unify opposition to Ms. Sohn, to lay out chapter and verse of her extreme record, and then earned the support of multiple Democrat senators who agreed her record was far outside the mainstream. The Biden White House had no choice but withdraw the nomination.”
“Next was Phil Washington” for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator, Cruz continued, a “perfectly nice guy,” with “an honorable career in the military, serving over two decades in the military,” but who “knows nothing about airplanes. Traditionally the administrator of the FAA has had a long career in aviation, and ideally in aviation safety.”
Then came Biden’s choice to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ann Carlson, whom Cruz said “has been an extreme environmental activist her entire career, and was put there to push the White House’s radical Green New Deal agenda, and to try to force car makers to abandon the internal combustion engine and go all electric instead. NHTSA has a very important job. It’s charged with focusing on safety in automobiles on highways, looking at, ‘How do we make cars more safe? How do we protect our families?’ And once again, just like with the FAA, the [NHTSA] is a safety job. Biden administration didn’t care about the safety component.”
“We worked with stakeholders across the country concerned by such a radical nominee, and we earned the support of multiple Democrats, resulting in the Biden White House admitting defeat a third time in five months and withdrawing the nomination,” Cruz explained. “My approach is to stay directly focused on facts and substance, on the actual record of the nominee. Not to engage in character assassination, not to go into the gutter with personal matters, but rather to examine the cold hard facts, the actual record of the nominee. With Ms. Sohn, it was a record of extreme left-wing partisan activism. With Mr. Washington, it was a record that lacked any material experience in aviation or aviation safety. With Ms. Carlson, it was a record of environmental extremism. But, with each, it involved meticulously assembling the record, and then laying it out in a way that my colleagues could appreciate it and realize just how far out of the mainstream these nominees were.”
In some cases, he added, it helps to frame the issue as non-political, such as with the FAA position: “During the hearing, I pointed out that Billy Nolan, President Biden’s acting administrator, certainly appeared to be qualified. He had all of the expertise that Mr. Washington lacked. He had decades of experience in aviation and aviation safety. I think pointing to a credible alternative already serving within the Biden administration was an important piece in building opposition to a nominee who was objectively unqualified.”
It’s more difficult to derail judicial nominees, however, who once confirmed remain in office long after the president who nominated them, creating much stronger partisan incentives to support them. Last month, Cruz excoriated three such Biden nominees as “amazingly unqualified.”
“What’s going to happen next is quite unfortunate for the American people, because what we are about to see this committee do is vote on several nominees who are so extreme, who are so unqualified, that they could not have a prayer of getting even a single Republican vote on this committee,” Cruz said before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 11. “Frankly, if my Democrat colleagues valued the responsibility of the Senate’s advice and consent, my Democrat colleagues would tell the White House these nominees are unacceptable.”
He first discussed Charnelle Bjelkengren, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, whom he said was possibly the least qualified nominee he had ever seen in his 11 years on the committee. “When Senator Kennedy asked her what Article V of the Constitution was, she had no idea,” Cruz said. “When Senator Kennedy asked her what Article II of the Constitution was, she said I don’t know … any first-year law student who didn’t know what Article II was would flunk Con Law.”
To demonstrate, Cruz produced Bjelkengren’s answer to the question of what her top ten litigated cases were. The list consisted of two driver’s license revocations, four unemployment benefit cases (one of which she lost despite the opposing litigant not having a lawyer), and left the remaining four slots blank.
“In this administration, if you are a left-wing radical it doesn’t matter if you’re competent,” Cruz declared.
Cruz next discussed Kato Crews, Biden’s nominee for District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado: “When asked about Brady versus Maryland, one of the foundational criminal law classes again, first-year criminal law, you learn about Brady. [He] said I’m sorry, I don’t know what Brady is. That’ll be a problem if [he’s] ever presiding over a criminal case.”
Cruz concluded with Marian Gaston, a San Francisco judge nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. “Let’s see just how moonbat crazy we’re willing to put on the bench,” Cruz said before examining a quote from a 2008 paper Gaston co-authored about legal restrictions placed on where convicted sex offenders may reside after serving their sentences.
“Children are not safer because registered sex offenders are prohibited from residing near schools, parks, day care centers and other places where children tend to gather,” the paper argued. “The conclusions and recommendations are that – as difficult as it might be – laws that regulate where sex offenders may not live should be repealed or substantially modified in the interest of public safety.”
Cruz told Democrats on the committee that even in solidly blue states, residents would say “are you out of your mind?” to the prospect of letting pedophiles live near daycares. But “that’s who should be a federal judge” according to the Biden administration, he said. “That’s who the Biden White House has given you.”