The nomination of Hoosier Thomas Kirsch II to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was approved Thursday by the Judiciary Committee and will be sent to the U.S. Senate for a confirmation vote.
Kirsch, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, passed on a party-line vote with all Republicans in favor and all the Democrats opposed. The Senate is expected to vote on his nomination next week.
Democrats contested the committee moving forward to fill the bench vacancy in the last weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration. Kirsch would succeed Amy Coney Barrett after she was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said the processing of Kirsch and the four other judicial nominees on the agenda violated long-standing committee precedent. In the past, the committee has stopped considering nominees “late in the election year and especially when the president putting forth those nominations has lost his bid for reelection …,” she said.
Also, Sen Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, pointed out the 7th Circuit is lacking in any diversity, and if Kirsch is confirmed, the court will continue to be all-white.
The Kirsch nomination is “particularly troubling,” the senator said, because President Barack Obama nominated Myra Selby, who would have been the first woman and first African-America from Indiana to sit on the Chicago-based appellate court, in 2016. However, Republicans blocked her from even receiving a hearing by the judiciary committee.
“We have a larger obligation to make sure that our courts look like America,” Blumenthal said, “and this nominee contravenes that basic principle.”