United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
On September 7, 2017, President Trump nominated Ryan Bounds to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Bounds was nominated to replace Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, who assumed senior status on December 31, 2016.
Alliance for Justice has prepared this snapshot to highlight areas of Bounds’s record, based on our review thus far, in which we believe greater scrutiny by the Senate is warranted. AFJ has not reviewed his entire record. For example, materials from his work in the George W. Bush Administration, contained at the George W. Bush Library, including folders of material on such issues as the rights of persons with disabilities, crack/powder cocaine disparity, and firearm safety, are not available to the public and therefore could not be reviewed.
There are serious questions about Bounds’s independence. Republican Congressmen Greg Walden, whose chief of staff is Bounds’s sister, called Bounds “the rare Oregonian with a sincere commitment to conservative jurisprudence.” As one Oregonian journalist wrote, “President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Ninth Circuit [Ryan Bounds] could act as an advocate for Trump’s immigration agenda, according to lawyers who know him.”
Like the vast majority of Trump’s nominees, Bounds is a member of the Federalist Society, an outside group to which Trump has indicated he has delegated the identification of candidates for judicial nominations.
Also similar to many of Trump’s nominations, the nomination of Ryan Bounds was made without the advice and consent of his home-state senators.
Under President Obama, Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee made clear that a nominee’s writings, including those dating back to the nominee’s time in college, were grounds to oppose confirmation. For example, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Senators Mike Lee and Jon Kyle, pressed Jesse Furman, a former Assistant United States Attorney in New York, about an article he wrote as an undergraduate critical of the National Rifle Association. As Senator Chuck Grassley said in opposing Furman, “When we considered his nomination last year, a few items of concern were raised. These issues included writings he made while in college on gun control[.]”
AFJ’s review finds that while at Stanford University:
- Bounds wrote critically about “strident racial factions in the student body” and their work to “build tolerance” and “promote diversity.” He went on to claim that the efforts of these students “seem always to contribute more to restricting consciousness, aggravating intolerance, and pigeonholing cultural identities than many a Nazi bookburning.”
- Bounds complained about multicultural organizations at the university who “divide up by race for their feel-good ethnic hoedowns.”
- Bounds wrote that “race-focused groups” should not continue on campus, claiming that 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.”
- Using racist and offensive language, Bounds claimed that there were communities on campus who believed that the “opponent is the white male and his coterie of meanspirited lackeys: ‘oreos,’ ‘twinkies,’ ‘coconuts,’ and the like.”
- Similarly, Bounds accused campus “race-thinkers” of denigrating African-Americans as “oreos,” “Uncle Toms” or “sell-outs” if they rejected “victimhood status.”
- Bounds wrote condescendingly and dismissively about sexual assault on campus and argued that to identify and punish alleged perpetrators, the university should maintain the ironclad “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof used by law enforcement. He wrote: “Expelling students is probably not going to contribute a great deal toward a rape victim’s recovery; there is no moral imperative to risk egregious error in doing so.”
- Bounds decried “sensitivity” towards racial minorities and the LGBTQ community, and activism by those communities as a “pestilence” that “stalks us” and “threatens to corrupt our scholastic experience.”
- Bounds served as opinion editor of The Stanford Review, and during his tenure a feature of the opinion page, “Smoke Signals,” began using a crude caricature of a Native American figure even though the university had discontinued using the “Indians” mascot more than twenty years earlier in response to complaints from Native American groups. Stanford University President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoleezza Rice both criticized the Review for using the image.