President Donald Trump renominated Ryan Bounds LAW ’99 last month to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The court holds appellate jurisdiction over Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands.
An Oregon native, Bounds currently serves as an assistant U.S. attorney for Oregon. Previously, he served as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and as a special assistant to President George W. Bush on domestic policy. Earlier in his career, he practiced commercial law for Stoel Rives LLP in Portland, Oregon.
Trump originally nominated Bounds for judgeship on Sept. 7, eight months after Greg Walden, a Republican congressman from Oregon whose chief of staff, Lorissa Bounds, is Bounds’ sister, recommended that Trump pick Bounds for the position. But along with multiple other judicial nominees, Bounds was not confirmed before Congress finished for the year, leaving it up to Trump whether to renominate him in the new year.
“Rural Oregon deserves both a chance for a more balanced judicial approach and a talented legal practitioner who understands the impact these decisions have on our way of life,” Walden said in a Jan. 11 statement praising Bounds’ renomination. “Ryan’s deep roots in rural Oregon, respect for tradition, precedent and deference to the political branches of the state and federal governments will provide rural Oregon with that important voice on the bench. I strongly support his nomination and look forward to the Senate moving promptly to confirm him for this seat on the Ninth Circuit.”
Bounds received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and political science from Stanford University and his J.D. from Yale Law School. At Yale, Bounds was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and the editor-in-chief of the Yale Law & Policy Review. He was also the vice president of Yale’s chapter of the Federalist Society. Founded in 1982, the Federalist Society “is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order,” according to its website, and many of Trump’s judicial picks, including the Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, are among its members.
Bounds’ original nomination received backlash from Oregon’s Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, who refused to send their “blue slips” approving Bounds’ nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee The committee usually does not proceed with confirmation hearings without the home-state senators’ approval of the nominee.
At the time, Wyden and Merkley argued that Bounds had not been vetted through Oregon’s traditional bipartisan judicial selection committee, so they could not approve his nomination.
“Disregarding this Oregon tradition returns us to the days of nepotism and patronage that harmed our courts and placed unfit judges on the bench,” Wyden and Merkley said in a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn. “The judicial selection process is not a rubber stamp, and the insinuation that our offices were purposely delaying the process is an indication of the partisanship with which you are pursuing this nomination.”
Despite the backlash, the president renominated Bounds, along with 20 other judges from Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, on Jan. 5. The nomination letter says these states are “suffering from judicial emergencies” and that the president is looking forward “to the swift confirmation of these nominees.” The judicial seat for which Bounds is nominated has been vacant since Dec. 31, 2016.
Bounds, as well as other potential judicial nominees from Oregon, are still under review by a bipartisan judicial committee in the state, appointed by Walden, Wyden and Merkley, according to a Jan. 8 report in the East Oregonian newspaper.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is yet to set a date for Bounds’ confirmation hearing.
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