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Judiciary Committee Deadlocks on SDNY Nominee Dale Ho

The panel also deadlocked for the second time on the nominations of Charlotte Sweeney and Hernán D. Vera for U.S. district courts. Written by Avalon Zoppo and published through National Law Journal.

What You Need to Know

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-11 on Ho's nomination to the Southern District of New York.

  • Republicans criticized tweets and statements Ho made before being nominated.

  • The panel advanced Second Circuit nominee Alison Nathan and several district court picks.

President Joe Biden’s pick for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York hit a roadblock Thursday when the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked over Dale Ho’s nomination.

The panel split 11-11 on its vote for Ho, in addition to Charlotte Sweeney for the District of Colorado and Hernán D. Vera for the Central District of California. It’s the second time that Sweeney and Vera failed to advance favorably out of the committee.

Several Republicans took issue with statements Ho made before his nomination, including a 2013 interview in which he said he is a “wild-eyed sort of leftist” who is “accused of sometimes seeing racial discrimination everywhere I look.”

“Everyone on this committee knows the sorts of people that should be judges, knows the temperament that we expect of judges. Everyone on this committee knows Dale Ho doesn’t have that temperament,” Sen. Ted Cruz said Thursday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin read a letter from Robert Smith, a former associate judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, who Ho clerked for in 2006 and 2007. In the letter, Smith said Ho expressed his views “appropriately and respectfully” and doesn’t “think of members of a different political tribe as the enemy.”

“It’s a pretty positive letter and addresses the charges that were made. Members are allowed to, of course, draw their own conclusions,” Durbin said.

Ho is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project and an adjunct law professor at New York University.

During his nomination hearing, Ho apologized for his “overheated rhetoric” on social media after Republicans brought up some of his past tweets. Ho also defended his temperament and said that in the 2013 interview, in which he said he was a “wild-eyed leftist,” he was describing how others have caricatured him.

“I became a lawyer because I deeply believe in the principle of equal justice under the law. That everyone who walks into court regardless of who they are, what their interests are, what their claims are, deserves a fair opportunity to be heard, and ultimately, equal treatment by the court and under the law,” he said.

The tie votes on Thursday complicate the confirmation process for the nominees. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer must now file a discharge motion to be voted on by the Senate before a final floor vote by the full chamber can occur.

The panel previously deadlocked on Ninth Circuit picks Holly Thomas and Jennifer Sung. Sung was confirmed to the bench in December and Thomas on Thursday.

The committee on Thursday advanced the nominations of Alison J. Nathan for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and eight district court picks.

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