WASHINGTON — After telling senators on the floor this morning that he looked forward to confirming 9th Circuit nominee Ryan Bounds, this afternoon Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pulled the judicial nomination after Republican objections left Bounds without enough votes for confirmation.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told GOP leaders that he couldn’t support Bounds’ confirmation without more review because of racially insensitive remarks in the nominee’s past.
“After talking with the nominee last night and meeting with him today, I had unanswered questions that led to me being unable to support him,” he said in a statement.
Bounds, 45, has been an assistant U.S. attorney in Oregon for the past eight years. The controversy, for which home-state Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said they withheld their approval, dates back to his writings for a conservative student paper while attending Stanford University.
In those articles, Bounds asserted that there were communities on campus who believed that the “opponent is the white male and his coterie of meanspirited lackeys: ‘oreos,’ ‘twinkies,’ ‘coconuts,’ and the like,” and said multicultural organizations at the university “divide up by race for their feel-good ethnic hoedowns.” He argued that ethnic “race-focused” student organizations should not be allowed to continue on campus as “white students, after all, seem to be doing all right without an Aryan Student Union.”
Of campus sexual assault, Bounds wrote, “Expelling students is probably not going to contribute a great deal toward a rape victim’s recovery; there is no moral imperative to risk egregious error in doing so.” He described activism by minority and LGBT campus groups as a “pestilence” and criticized “strident racial factions in the student body” and their work to “build tolerance” and “promote diversity.”
At his confirmation hearing in May, Bounds apologized for the “high-handed and overheated tone” of his writings.
“But I want to make sure that there’s no misconstruction about the intentions behind those columns, which was always to seek greater tolerance and mutual understanding on campus and a way of celebrating diversity that everyone could participate in,” Bounds said.
“He has earned degrees from Stanford and Yale. He’s clerked for the very Ninth Circuit judge he’s been nominated to succeed,” McConnell said this morning. “For the past fourteen years, Mr. Bounds has distinguished himself as a public servant, at the Department of Justice and in his current role as an Assistant United States Attorney for Oregon. Along the way, he has earned the respect and recognition of legal professionals from across the country and the political spectrum.”
“Fairness, impartiality, intellectual rigor. To sum it up, in the words of one legal peer, quote, ‘Ryan has all of this, and more.’ So, I look forward to voting to confirm this excellent nominee, and I urge all my colleagues to join me,” McConnell added.
In addition to Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was reportedly among those on the GOP side who were planning to vote “no.”