US Senate confirms Ohio public interest lawyer to federal appeals court

By Andrew Goudsward and Jacqueline Thomsen

(Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed an Ohio public interest lawyer as President Joe Biden’s latest nominee to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a vote that was largely along party lines.

Rachel Bloomekatz was approved by a vote of 50-48 to the Cincinnati-based appeals court as Senate Democrats push to confirm judges ahead of a planned recess next month.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor on Tuesday called Bloomekatz “an accomplished litigator who has dedicated her career to the pursuit of equal justice for all.”

Bloomekatz, who launched the public interest law firm Bloomekatz Law in Ohio in 2019, has represented consumers, workers and voters in appellate cases. She also served as Ohio counsel to Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Bloomekatz faced questions from Republican senators at a hearing last year about her work with the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. Bloomekatz worked alongside lawyers at the organization defending gun safety ordinances and challenging an Ohio school district’s decision to allow teachers to be armed.

Republicans pressed her about her views on the Second Amendment and whether she supported gun policies favored by Democrats. Bloomekatz declined to share her personal views, saying it would be inappropriate for a judicial nominee, but she committed to following the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on gun rights.

The Senate Judiciary Committee later deadlocked on her nomination along party lines. During Tuesday’s confirmation vote, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin joined Senate Republicans in opposing Bloomekatz.

Bloomekatz, who clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, is Biden’s third nominee to secure confirmation to the 6th Circuit.

The court remains dominated by judges appointed by Republican presidents after former President Donald Trump named six judges to the court during his term in office.

In a recent high-profile ruling, the court allowed a Tennessee law barring certain medical treatment for transgender minors to go into effect.

Bloomekatz previously worked at Washington, D.C.-based Gupta Wessler, a law firm that represents plaintiffs in appellate litigation, and global law firm Jones Day.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward and Jacqueline Thomsen in Washington; Editing by Jamie Freed)