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Senate readies vote on anti-voter ID Biden judicial nominee after contentious confirmation hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote Thursday on a Biden circuit court nominee who has a career as an activist against state voter ID laws and who was previously denied a post on the Election Assistance Commission.  

In June, President Biden nominated Myrna Pérez, a voting rights activist, to serve on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, which hears appeals cases from the states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont.

Pérez is the director of the voting rights and elections program for the left-leaning Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program at the New York University School of Law. Earlier this year, she wrote articles characterizing election reform proposals from Republican-controlled state legislatures in Georgia, Texas and other states as voter suppression. In mid-2020, she wrote that some states were “gutting” the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

Pérez also wrote a piece for the magazine Sojourners with the headline, “The GOP Campaign to Make Elections Less Free.” During a contentious July 14 confirmation hearing, she said the editors of the magazine chose the headline. The article itself says, “The barrage of suppressive bills has been different from previous years in various ways. The sheer number of bills, the sweeping nature of the proposals, the procedural shenanigans, and the brazenness of lawmakers’ intent makes this like few legislative attempts in memory.”

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During the confirmation hearing, Pérez told the Judiciary Committee members, “I am pledging to no longer participate in policy disputes, and instead I will impartially and objectively review the law, apply it to the record before me, and be faithful to the precedent both of the Supreme Court and the 2nd Circuit.”

She will likely be confirmed by the full Senate, with a 50-50 split but under Democratic control because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote. 

“Ms. Perez is a partisan activist who has dedicated her career to fighting common sense voting laws, like the ones Missouri voters overwhelmingly support,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Fox News in a statement. 

“Despite her very vocal and frequent criticism of Supreme Court decisions protecting voter integrity, she refused to explain her comments to the Judiciary Committee or answer questions about what she believes,” Hawley said. “Because of her lack of candor and partisan activism, I cannot support her nomination.”

Largely because of her activism, Republicans opposed the nomination of Pérez in 2014 to serve on the Election Assistance Commission. President Obama withdrew the nomination. 

In announcing the nomination, the Biden White House heralded Pérez as a “nationally-recognized leader on voting rights who would be the only Latina serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.”

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Pérez joined the Brennan Center in 2006. She has also been a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School since 2016, according to the White House, and was an adjunct professor of clinical law at NYU School of Law from 2013 to 2015. Pérez was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2004 and U.S. District Judge Julio M. Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 2004 to 2005.

Also on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on four Biden district court judicial nominations, as well as the nomination of Matthew G. Olsen to be an assistant attorney general for the national security division of the Justice Department.