On November 13, 2018, President Trump nominated Daniel P. Collins to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the seat previously held by Judge Harry Pregerson. The Senate did not act on Collins’s nomination before the end of the Congress, and on January 3, 2019, Collins’s nomination was returned to the President. On February 6, 2019, President Trump renominated Collins.
Collins’s record offers no evidence that if he is elevated to the federal bench, he could act as a fair-minded and neutral arbiter. His record shows that he has fought to undermine civil liberties, weaken women’s reproductive rights, and criticized important Supreme Court decisions necessary for a just criminal justice system. Moreover, he has carved out a career as the go-to lawyer for a host of entities accused of discrimination, egregious human rights violations, and endangering the health and safety of persons in the U.S. and abroad.
Collins’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit also comes in the wake of President Trump’s repeated attacks on the independence of the circuit, and his stated desire to obtain different rulings (see our report on fellow Ninth Circuit Trump nominee Kenneth Lee for more information). It is clear that Trump brings an agenda to any nomination he makes to the circuit: the selection of a reliable ideologue. Therefore, the White House has pointedly avoided meaningful consultation with either of Collins’s home-state senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris – and neither senator has returned her blue slip on his nomination. Moreover, both senators have criticized Collins’s record. As Senator Feinstein wrote, “I repeatedly told the White House I wanted to reach an agreement on a package of 9th Circuit nominees, but…the White House moved forward without consulting me, picking controversial candidates from its initial list.”
Senators Feinstein and Harris have voiced significant concerns about Collins’s ability to serve as a neutral arbiter. They noted in a January 2018 statement that:
[We] also told the White House that we could not support Daniel Collins because concerns about his temperament and rigidity were raised during his vetting. In particular, we were told that Mr. Collins has a history of taking strong litigation positions for no reason other than attempting to overturn precedent and push legal boundaries. This should be a concern to all senators—it should not be a partisan issue. Consistency and stability are vital in the law [emphasis added].
Once again, it is clear that the White House is seeking extreme partisans and ultraconservatives for Ninth Circuit seats, and Collins’s record strongly suggests that he meets those requirements.
AFJ strongly opposes his nomination.