Trump appeals court nominee withdraws amid outcry over college writings
Ryan Bounds came under fire over articles he wrote while a Stanford University undergraduate. (Department of Justice)
A federal prosecutor nominated by President Trump to sit on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was withdrawn from consideration Thursday after Republican senators expressed concerns over his college writings about race, sexual assault and other issues.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced that the nomination of Ryan Bounds had been pulled by the White House minutes before his confirmation vote was expected.
Judicial nominations are rarely pulled at such a late stage, unless a nominee does not have the support to pass.
Fox News has learned that Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., had determined he would oppose Bounds' nomination and spoke out against it at the GOP Senate luncheon Thursday. Republicans hold a narrow 50-49 edge in the Senate, meaning that one defection would be enough to sink a nomination.
Bounds wrote articles that his own county bar association described as “racist, misogynistic, homophobic and disparaging of survivors of sexual assault and abuse.” He then failed to disclose these articles to Oregon’s judicial selection committee.— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) July 19, 2018
The White House said Bounds had withdrawn his nomination and did not elaborate.
The controversy around Bounds, an assistant U.S. attorney in Oregon, focused on articles he wrote while an undergraduate at Stanford University. In one of them, Bounds criticized what he called "race-focused groups" at the university, which he said "divide up [students] by race for their feel-good ethnic hoedowns."
The "existence of ethnic organizations is no inevitable prerequisite to maintaining a diverse community—white students, after all, seem to be doing all right without an Aryan Student Union," Bounds wrote.
In another article, one discussing campus sexual assault, Bounds wrote, "There is nothing really inherently wrong with the University failing to punish an alleged rapist — regardless of his guilt — in the absence of adequate certainty" and "expelling students is probably not going to contribute a great deal toward a rape victim’s recovery."
Don’t give Republicans too much credit here. Up until the very last minute they were ready to give a lifetime appellate court post to a guy who thinks that black students shouldn’t be able to organize on campuses: “They divide up by race for their feel good ethnic hoedowns”.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) July 19, 2018
The writings were not initially turned over as part of Bounds' confirmation process.
During his confirmation hearing Wednesday, Bounds told senators that his rhetoric was "overheated" and admitted that his views were "not as respectful" as they could have been.
Bounds' nomination was opposed by Oregon's two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, who declined to submit the so-called "blue slips" used to indicate approval of a nominee.
Wyden tweeted Thursday that he was "gratified the Senate came to its senses today."
I’m the child of Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany. To read what Mr. Bounds wrote was a slap in the face & I imagine there are millions of people across the country who would feel the same way. That’s why @senJeffMerkley & I withheld our blue slips from his nomination.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) July 19, 2018
"Ryan Bounds flagrantly misrepresented his background, lying to cover up disturbing, intolerant writings from his past & in my view, that means he’s disqualified from sitting on the federal bench," he wrote.
A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., used the Bounds withdrawal to call for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to turn over papers from his days working in the George W. Bush administration.
"Republicans just sunk the Bounds nomination based on his college writings. After that, how are they going to argue that Judge Kavanaugh’s White House papers aren’t relevant to his nomination to the Supreme Court?" Matt House said in a statement. "A lower court nominee’s college writings are relevant but a Supreme Court nominee’s White House writings aren’t? I don’t think so."
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Bill Mears, Kelly Chernenkoff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.