GOP senators might block judicial nominee for not being a right-wing extremist


Halil Suleyman 'Sul' Ozerden, one of Trump's recent judicial nominees, just isn't conservative enough for some senators.

One of Trump's judicial nominees is in trouble.

Halil Suleyman "Sul" Ozerden, whom Trump nominated for a seat on the ultra-conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, doesn't seem to be conservative enough for some Republican senators.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is especially unhappy with Ozerden. Cruz thinks Ozerden isn't enough of a constitutionalist.

There's no actual definition of who can be considered a constitutionalist, but Cruz loves to use the word. It definitely encompasses states' rights and imposing conservative Christianity on others.

Apparently, Ozerden isn't good enough at turning America into a theocracy. Cruz is particularly displeased by Ozerden's ruling in Catholic Diocese of Biloxi v. Sebelius. That case was one of many filed by conservative Christians who were unhappy that Obamacare required birth control to be covered by insurance.

In that case, Ozerden granted the Obama administration's motion to dismiss on a technical ground — that the case was not "ripe for judicial review." Ozerden didn't say he believed in the Obama administration's position on birth control. He was simply saying the case wasn't ready to be heard yet. In fact, he dismissed the case "without prejudice," which meant the diocese was welcome to refile it.

That wasn't enough for Cruz, who said he has "significant concerns" and didn't see any "positive substantive evidence" of a constitutionalist judicial record. Ozerden responded by saying, "[t]he notion that I am hostile to religious liberty is simply not accurate."

Other Republican senators also aren't happy with Ozerden. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said she was "focused on the Obamacare birth control mandate." When Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) was asked if he would vote to confirm Ozerden, he said, "I don't know." All of this hand-wringing is a bit odd since conservatives ultimately won the battle over whether religious organizations had to provide birth control coverage.

If Ozerden's nomination tanks, it will be a blow to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Ozerden was a groomsman at Mulvaney's wedding. Mulvaney also pushed former White House counsel Don McGahn to nominate Ozerden, despite concerns he wasn't conservative enough.

Of course, no one is conservative enough for people like Cruz, Ernst and Kennedy. They're dedicated to twisting the law to impose their conservative views on everyone else. On that note, expect to see Ozerden withdraw his nomination sometime soon.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.