Senate confirms Trump’s pick for 9th Circuit Court over objections of Feinstein and Harris

Kenneth Kiyul Lee testifies in March before a Senate committee.

The Senate confirmed Los Angeles litigator Kenneth Kiyul Lee to a California seat on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday over the objections of Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

Harris and Feinstein have accused Lee of failing to initially disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee his past writings decrying sexual harassment accusers, gay people, AIDS and affirmative action. They were uncovered by reporters and committee staff.

During his confirmation hearing in March, Republicans appeared satisfied with Lee’s apology for his youthful writings.

The final 52-45 vote fell along party lines.


Lee is the fifth Circuit Court nominee approved by the Senate over the objections of home-state senators since President Trump took office. Neither Harris nor Feinstein returned their “blue slips” for Lee’s nomination to signal their support for a judicial nomination in their home state.

Historically, failing to return the slips would have stalled a candidate’s nomination indefinitely, but Senate Republicans focused on confirming Trump’s court picks have trudged ahead confirming judicial nominees without the sign of support.

It’s a change in tradition that is likely to continue. Lee is the first of three men Trump nominated to fill vacant California seats on the 9th Circuit Court over Feinstein’s and Harris’ objections.

Lee, a South Korean immigrant, attended Cornell University as an undergraduate and earned a law degree at Harvard University. He worked on Capitol Hill and in the George W. Bush White House as associate counsel before entering private practice.


The Senate Judiciary Committee also approved the nomination of Los Angeles appellate attorney Daniel P. Collins in March, but a final Senate vote has not yet been scheduled.

Trump’s third 9th Circuit Court nominee, Daniel A. Bress, 39, a Washington-area partner with Kirkland & Ellis, was referred to the Judiciary Committee along with Lee and Collins.

Bress, born in California, has not lived in the state since high school. The state’s senators have questioned whether he has sufficient ties to California. His confirmation hearing has not been scheduled.

The latest from Washington »


More stories from Sarah D. Wire »