WASHINGTON ― The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Wendy Vitter to be a lifetime federal judge, despite outcry from Democrats over her extreme anti-abortion views.
The Senate voted 52 to 45 to give Vitter, 58, a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Every Republican but one, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), voted for her. Every Democrat present voted against her.
Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), all currently running for president, did not vote. (The full vote tally is here.)
Vitter, who is general counsel to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and the wife of former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), drew fierce opposition from Democrats because she is a vocal opponent of abortion rights.
“Planned Parenthood says they promote women’s health,” Vitter said in a 2013 speech in protest of a new Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans. “It is the saddest of ironies that they kill over 150,000 females a year. The first step in promoting women’s health is to let them live.”
During her Senate confirmation hearing in April 2018, Vitter repeatedly avoided saying whether she still agrees with that speech. She also didn’t disclose this speech to senators in her background materials submitted ahead of her hearing, which is a no-no.
Another detail Vitter didn’t disclose to the committee: that she had moderated a panel at a 2013 anti-abortion conference peddling misinformation about false links between abortion and cancer. She also urged audience members to tell their doctors to put brochures in their waiting rooms that would falsely claim birth control leads to “violent death.” Vice News uncovered these missing materials ahead of Vitter’s confirmation hearing, and they were turned over to the committee.
“All I’m looking for are judges that are fair and impartial,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told Vitter in her hearing. “They need to exhibit judgment, not to mention common sense. Ms. Vitter’s public endorsement of these obvious falsehoods … and her urging of the audience to distribute materials containing such obvious lies shows she lacks the judgment for a lifetime appointment.”
Vitter has also taken heat for not saying whether she agreed with the landmark civil rights case that desegregated U.S. public schools, Brown v. Board of Education.
“Ms. Vitter’s public endorsement of these obvious falsehoods … and her urging of the audience to distribute materials containing such obvious lies shows she lacks the judgment for a lifetime appointment.”
Vitter is the second of President Donald Trump’s controversial judicial nominees to get confirmed this week. The Senate confirmed Kenneth Lee, 43, on Wednesday to a lifetime seat on U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
Republicans confirmed Lee over the objections of both of his home-state senators and despite his previous offensive writings on sexism, AIDS, LGBTQ rights, slavery and Native Americans.
Trump is racking up judicial confirmations at a breakneck pace. To date, Republicans have confirmed two of his Supreme Court justices, 65 of his district court judges and 40 of his appeals court judges ― more than any president has gotten through by this point in his first term.