The latest Senate confirmation of a Trump-nominated federal judge is stirring controversy and complaints in both the legal community and among advocates of reproductive rights for women.
Sarah Pitlyk’s nomination to the U.S. District Court in St. Louis was approved Tuesday on a near-party-line vote, despite getting a “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association.
Pitlyk has little experience — as a lawyer, she’s never tried a civil or criminal case, nor ever examined a witness — and she strongly opposes abortion, in vitro fertilization, fertility treatmens and even surrogate motherhood. Now, she can be a federal judge for life.
“Pitlyk’s confirmation is a victory for Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who have sought a dramatic and deeply consequential reshaping of the federal judiciary, installing a dizzying number of judges and energizing Republican voters,” reports the Washington Post.
That “dizzying number”? As of Thursday, it’s more than 170.
What experience Pitlyk can claim includes clerking for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, when he was a federal appeals court judge.
Just one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted no in Tuesday’s confirmation vote.
Pitlyk’s nomination is “seen as yet another mark of the influence of the Federalist Society, a conservative nonprofit organization, over Trump’s selection of judges,” the Post says, noting that Pitlyk is a Federalist Society member.
“Her position — that states should treat embryos like humans — would likely outlaw abortion, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy,” the Post says, citing an analysis by Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern.
With a nod to the fact that Pitlyk, 42, will sit on the St. Louis court, the Post says her appointment “may resonate louder in Missouri, where Planned Parenthood has said abortion rights are ‘hanging on by a thread’”
In a statement, Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, described Pitlyk as “exactly the type of judicial nominee that Trump promised to fill the courts with: an individual who threatens reproductive rights and access to abortion.”
In a speech on the Senate floor before Tuesday’s vote, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said: “Pitlyk’s record is extremely troubling and raises a number of questions about her ability to be a fair and impartial judge.”