President Joe Biden may nominate a conservative, anti-abortion lawyer for a lifetime judgeship in Kentucky as part of a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), The Louisville Courier-Journal reported Wednesday.
While Kentucky doesn’t currently have a judicial vacancy, the deal would see Chad Meredith, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, nominated when a sitting judge announces they are stepping down or retiring, the paper reported. The Courier-Journal added the deal would see McConnell agree not to hold up any future federal nominations by the Biden White House.
Meredith previously served as Kentucky’s solicitor general and as a deputy counsel to former Gov. Matt Bevin. He defended a 2017 Kentucky law that required doctors who perform abortions to perform ultrasounds and then describe the image to a patient before they could have the procedure.
The law was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019.
The office of Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth (D) told The Hill the White House informed the lawmaker of Biden’s intent, saying the congressman was deeply opposed to Meredith’s appointment. Yarmuth added that the agreement, which comes on the heels of the Supreme Court decision that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade, would see yet another “extremist” in a powerful judicial role.
“Given that a judicial position isn’t currently open on the Eastern District Court, it’s clear that this is part of some larger deal on judicial nominations between the president and Mitch McConnell,” Yarmuth elaborated to the Courier-Journal. “I strongly oppose this deal and Meredith being nominated for the position. The last thing we need is another extremist on the bench.”
Kentucky, McConnell’s home state, was one of several states that had so-called trigger laws on the books that went into effect immediately after the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protected Americans’ access to abortion. The Kentucky law makes exceptions to save the life of a mother or prevent a disabling injury.
The Biden administration is under fierce pressure after the Supreme Court decision to address the rollback of abortion rights. Civil rights groups have announced a bevy of court fights in states that have quickly banned abortion, while prosecutors in some regions have said they won’t enforce their states’ bans.
McConnell has focused on judicial nominees as a key facet of his legacy, calling lifetime appointments to the bench arguably the “most important” thing lawmakers can work towards.
“Obviously, this is my top priority,” the lawmaker told NPR in 2018.