The prospective nominee, conservative lawyer Chad Meredith, would serve in a lifetime appointment to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, even though there’s no judicial position currently open on the court.
Biden’s prospective nomination comes just as the President is pledging to use everything within his power to fight for abortion rights in the wake of last week’s US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. With the federal constitutional right to an abortion eliminated, states will have to determine abortion rights unless Congress acts.
Meredith previously worked as then-Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s deputy counsel, defending a state law that requires doctors performing abortions to first perform an ultrasound and describe the image on the monitor to the patient.
“This is right in the heartland of what states are permitted to do to regulate medicine,” Meredith said at the time. “There are a number of patients who don’t understand the nature of the fetus within them.”
A spokesperson for Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky told CNN that the congressman “was informed of the White House’s intent to nominate Meredith by White House staff.” And Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news conference on Thursday that his team was informed about Biden’s intention to nominate Meredith “late last week.”
“My understanding right now is it has not been submitted, which I hope at the very least means it’s on pause,” Beshear said.
Beshear had strong words for Biden, saying: “If the President makes that nomination, it is indefensible.”
“I don’t know how the President can say he’s for public safety if he makes this nomination,” Beshear added.
Asked for comment, a White House official said, “As a matter of practice, we don’t comment on executive or judicial vacancies.”
Yarmuth told The Courier-Journal he believed Meredith’s prospective nomination to a court where there is no current vacancy “is part of some larger deal on judicial appointments between the President and Mitch McConnell” — namely, to get the Senate minority leader to agree to no longer hold up Biden’s future federal nominations.
CNN has reached out to Meredith and McConnell’s office for comment.