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Second GOP senator to oppose Trump judicial pick

A second Republican senator said Thursday he will oppose President Trump‘s pick for an influential appeals court, raising new questions about the judge’s ability to be confirmed.
 
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) confirmed to reporters that he will oppose Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden’s nomination to the Louisiana-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
 
Hawley, whose opposition was first reported by Politico, is the second Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee to come out against Ozerden’s nomination following Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who told his colleagues earlier this month that he would vote no on the nomination.
 
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who has said he would support Ozerden, said on Thursday that he does not believe the nominee has the votes.

 
“I don’t think the votes are there, no,” Kennedy said when asked about opposition from Republicans.
 
Ozerden has faced skepticism from GOP senators and outright criticism from some outside groups, who question his conservative credentials and his dismissal of a case involving ObamaCare’s birth control mandate.
 
His nomination was expected to get a vote in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, but the panel’s meeting was canceled shortly before it was set to begin.
 
In addition to Ozerden, Trump’s nominee to lead the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was also set to get a vote, but is facing widespread GOP backlash.
 
Republicans have a 12-10 majority on the Judiciary panel, leaving Ozerden unable to get through the committee without help from Democrats.
 
No Democrats have said they will vote for Ozerden, but Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the committee, didn’t rule it out last week.

“I’ve looked at his record. He wouldn’t be my choice for a circuit court position, but I find nothing that disqualifies him,” Durbin said. “We’re going to go through it one more time. But from what I can see he is a conservative jurist, but he’s done nothing to disqualify himself.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the panel, appeared confident earlier this week that Ozerden would be able to get through the committee and ultimately be confirmed.

When conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt said it seemed like Ozerden was “going down” in committee, Graham responded: “He’s going to make it.”

“I think he was a great nominee by the president, and I’m going to stand behind him, and we’re going to vote, and that’s the way the process goes,” Graham added.

But asked about Ozerden on Thursday, Graham demurred, saying, “We’ll talk about all that when we get back.”

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