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Controversial judge nominee narrowly survives Senate committee vote

By Nicholas Sakelaris
The U.S. Capitol Building is seen October 17 bathed in early morning sunlight in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/e052173c33f3ccd6da163cbb98fe90ab/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The U.S. Capitol Building is seen October 17 bathed in early morning sunlight in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The Senate judiciary committee on Thursday narrowly advanced President Donald Trump's controversial nomination of White House attorney Steven Menashi to the federal appellate bench, sending the appointment for a full chamber vote.

Menashi, who's nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, is not popular among Democrats due to his shared views toward Muslims, women, same-sex rights and other issues.

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Menashi just survived the committee's 12-10 decision. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., cast one of the deciding votes.

"I spent a lot of time on this and I'm going to vote for his nomination because I think his reasons are carefully, carefully articulated," he said before approving the appointment.

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Kennedy acknowledged that he didn't like that Menashi refused to directly answer some questions from the panel, including inquiries about serving for the past year as a White House attorney.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned that Menashi could face bipartisan opposition in the full Senate.

"He was full of piss and vinegar as a young person," Graham said, referring to some of Menashi's past writings. "If you look at the man on paper, there's an incredible story. He's different than what I would have chosen, but I think he's led a consequential life."

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Menashi's family is Jewish and fled persecution before they emigrated to the United States.

Democrats likely don't have the votes to block his appointment, due to Republicans' 53-47 majority. Just one Republican so far, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, plans to oppose Menashi's nomination.

"Mr. Menashi's past writings, particularly about women, LGBTQ advocates, and diversity, raise questions about whether he has the appropriate judicial temperament," Collins said.

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Trump has touted his success in appointing 160 judges since he took office in 2017.

"We should have, within the next short period of time ... about 182 federal judges," he said.

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