Published in the San Francisco Chronicle
The Senate confirmed President Trump’s nomination of attorney Kenneth Lee to the federal appeals court based in San Francisco on a party-line vote Wednesday, over Democratic objections to Lee’s college writings that disparaged minorities and women.
The 52-45 vote makes Lee the fifth Trump appointee on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which the president has regularly vilified as hostile and biased for its rulings against him on issues such as immigration and birth control and his ban on travel from a group of mostly Muslim nations. The Ninth Circuit now has 16 judges appointed by Democratic presidents, 10 by Republicans and three vacancies.
By increasing the likelihood of conservative voices on the three-judge panels that decide most of the court’s cases, “I think (Trump’s appointments) will begin to make a difference,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who tracks judicial selections.
Lee, 43, immigrated from South Korea to the United States as a child and graduated from Cornell University and Harvard Law School. He worked in the White House counsel’s office under President George W. Bush and most recently litigated business cases with a Los Angeles law firm, where he also represented prisoners and some low-income clients.