One of Donald Trump’s biggest goals as president has been reshaping the federal judiciary.
On Tuesday, eight judicial nominees were highlighted for an abbreviated debate and are expected to come up for a vote before the full Senate sometime this week. Sen. Joni Ernst, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, approved all of them, either with a direct “aye” vote or by proxy.
The Senate has confirmed five of eight moved through committee, including a controversial nominee who has raised red flags for various progressive groups.
Sarah Pitlyk, a 42-year-old Federalist Society member from Missouri, also was approved by the judiciary committee. She has been highlighted by several progressive groups for her radical stances on reproductive rights and her lack of trial experience.
On Wednesday, she was confirmed in the Senate by a 49-44 vote. Ernst and Grassley both voted “aye.” Every present Democrat voted “no.”
A former staffer for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Pitlyk defended Iowa’s 2018 heartbeat bill deemed unconstitutional in January. She also defended Kavanaugh against sexual assault allegations and David Daleiden, the man who secretly filmed in a Planned Parenthood and made false videos about the health care provider selling fetal tissue. She has also argued that embryos are children and should be treated as such.
She was part of a 2017 brief for the Thomas More Society, an anti-choice nonprofit law firm, that argued surrogates face greater physical burdens than a biological mother; infants conceived through surrogates and IVF have more health risks; and that surrogacy breaks the mother-child bond.
“There is a voluminous and ever-growing body of medical research showing that surrogacy poses serious medical risks to both the pregnant women and the children they carry,” the brief reads. “In addition, the practice of surrogacy has grave effects on society, such as diminished respect for motherhood and the unique mother-child bond; exploitation of women; commodification of gestation and of children themselves; and weakening of appropriate social mores against eugenic abortion.”
The American Bar Association rated her “Not Qualified,” writing: “Ms. Pitlyk’s experience to date has a very substantial gap, namely the absence of any trial or even real litigation experience.”
Yesterday, Maine Sen. Susan Collins voted against ending debate on Pitlyk’s nomination. Last month, Collins said Pitlyk’s lack of experience makes her unqualified, and that she isn’t sure if Pitlyk would be able to suspend her personal views about abortion when ruling on cases.
Currently, Missouri’s eight-week abortion ban has been stalled in court. Because Pitlyk supported Iowa’s stricter six-week ban, it’s likely she would support the Missouri law.
Other nominees approved by the committee include: John L. Sinatra, Jr, Douglas Russell Cole, R. Austin Huffaker, Jr, David B. Barlow, Richard Ernest Myers II and Sherri A. Lydon.
At this point, the Trump Administration has appointed more than 160 federal judges to courtrooms across the country, at all levels. As a result, the makeup of the courts has taken a severe turn to the conservative and right-wing.
By Nikoel Hytrek
screengrab from EWTN video
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