Conservative Leaders to Trump: Ozerden Wrong for Appeals Court

Trump arms crossed Oliver DoulieryGetty
Oliver Douliery/Getty

WASHINGTON, DC – Conservative leaders are sending word to the White House that a judge the establishment would like to see President Trump nominate to the Fifth Circuit appeals court has a record showing he is not committed to constitutional conservatism, and thus would be expected to disappoint the president’s supporters by ruling against the president’s conservative agenda.

Controversy is building around Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden, a federal trial judge in Mississippi. Word has gotten out that some senior Republicans are pushing the White House to elevate Ozerden to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which covers Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

There are 17 seats on the Fifth Circuit. President Trump has appointed five judges to that court, all of whom are already standing out as epitomizing his promise to appoint judges in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. A recent Second Amendment case where all the judges weighed in showed that the 16 current judges on the Fifth Circuit are often tied 8-8 on critical constitutional issues.

There is one final open seat on that appellate court for the president to fill. The GOP establishment is pushing Ozerden, and now the president’s supporters and conservative leaders from Fifth Circuit states are pushing back.

“No violation of religious liberty and conscience rights in recent years is more infamous than when Obamacare ordered the nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate Church teachings,” says Susan B. Anthony President Marjorie Dannenfelser exclusively to Breitbart News, referring to the judge’s ruling in Catholic Diocese of Biloxi v. Sebelius. “Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden has utterly failed to protect people of faith against Obamacare’s assault on religious liberty and conscience rights and does not deserve a promotion to the Fifth Circuit.”

Judicial Crisis Network Chief Counsel Carrie Severino wrote an article exploring several Ozerden cases over the years. She tells Breitbart News that Ozerden’s judicial methodology:

stands in sharp contrast to the president’s outstanding picks for the Fifth Circuit in particular, who are committed to interpreting the Constitution as originally written and to rigorous textual analysis in interpreting federal law.

“It’s no longer business as usual with America’s activist judges, so it can no longer be business as usual in choosing America’s judges,” said American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, which is headquartered in Mississippi. “We must choose committed constitutionalists who will fight to set the American judicial ship right, and Judge Ozerden has proven by his record not to be that.”

“The last thing the Trump team needs is swamp guides to help them pick their judges,” says Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who lives in the Fifth Circuit state of Louisiana. “The president and his team are making tremendous strides in reining in America’s activist courts by nominating solid constitutionalists to the bench.”

“They should not change course now, as the record suggests the nomination of Ozerden would be,” Perkins added.

If President Trump nominates a proven originalist to the Fifth Circuit, that southern appeals court will become the first one in the nation with a reliably conservative majority, one that could be key to sustaining critical parts of his agenda that are currently being challenged in court.

“President Trump has a historic opportunity here to create an appellate court majority that is faithful to the Constitution as it is written, whether the issue is the Second Amendment, immigration, or a host of other issues,” says Ken Blackwell, who serves on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association and other conservative organizations. “I very much hope the president nominates a proven originalist to the Fifth Circuit, and seizes this moment to cement part of his legacy.”

Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.


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