In a highly controversial move Thursday, the Senate confirmed Donald Trump's nominee to the federal judiciary. John Bush, a lawyer who once published homophobic and sexist blog posts under a pseudonym, has been confirmed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, thereby securing a lifetime appointment as a federal judge.
Bush's history as an anonymous blogger has been well documented. He once infamously equated the decisions in the Dred Scott v. Sandford and Roe v. Wade cases by writing that “slavery and abortion” are the “two greatest tragedies in our country," although he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he regretted this post and would not have any problems upholding Roe.
As a blogger, Bush has gone much further than just condemning abortion. He has used homophobic slurs, referred to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as "nanny," regurgitated birther claims about Barack Obama, opposed the admission of women into a military academy, dismissed the discrimination enforced by voter ID laws, and condemned marriage equality. He also failed to inform the Senate that he belongs to a social club that is notorious for excluding minorities.
Despite all of this, the Senate still voted 51-47 to confirm his nomination, with every Republican except John McCain — who was absent — voting in his favor.
Democratic Senators were strongly opposed to his appointment, with many of them tweeting under the widespread #StopBush hashtag, but their opposition was not enough to prevent his confirmation.
John Bush, nominated by Republicans to serve a lifetime appointment on the Sixth Circuit, checks essentially every box for an unfit nominee.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) July 19, 2017
John Bush’s disrespect for others flatly disqualifies him for the 6th Circuit. Heading to the Senate floor now: https://t.co/tDuILDOoXx— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 19, 2017
What was particular noteworthy about Bush's confirmation was the way in which his political history and his appointment seemed so easily separable.
"Blogging is a political activity," Bush said during his confirmation hearing. "It is not appropriate to bring politics to the bench, and if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I will not bring politics to the bench."
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein was skeptical of this claim, as well as Bush's claim that he would uphold Roe, but Bush insisted that his "role as a circuit judge is to apply the law of the Supreme Court."
Although Bush did concede that he regretted many of his prior blog posts, there was a significant lack of accountability in his responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questions. His somewhat apologetic tone was certainly not enough to persuade Minnesota Sen. Al Franken that his blog posts — which occasionally cited white supremacist propaganda sites as sources — would not affect his ability to uphold past rulings. Even Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican, was not impressed.
With this confirmation, Bush will be joining an already right-leaning court that takes on cases in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. In the near future, the Senate will also vote on the confirmation of another controversial Trump nominee — Damien Schiff, a conservative senior attorney who Trump has nominated to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The Senate is expected to approve Schiff's appointment.