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Civil rights and environmental groups raise the alarm on a key judicial nomination

Civil rights leaders and environmentalists are calling on the Senate to reject President Trump’s choice of Andrew Oldham for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit when it votes on the nomination Thursday.During a press call on Wednesday, top brass for national civil rights and environmental advocacy organizations accused Oldham, 39, the top legal adviser to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, of fighting against voting rights, reproductive rights and government efforts to safeguard the environment and the public health.

As Abbott’s general counsel, Oldham repeatedly helped the Lone Star State join then-Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).Tiernan Sittenfeld, the senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, said Oldham challenged the EPA’s ability to implement the Clean Air Act and advocated overruling the landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision that directed the agency to limit carbon pollution.“But it’s not just that.Oldham is so extreme that he doesn’t just disagree with federal protections; he actually questions their constitutionality,” Sittenfeld said. “He said, and I quote, ‘One of the reasons why the administrative state is enraging is not that you disagree with what the EPA does — although I do disagree with a lot of what it does. That’s not the thing that makes it enraging. It’s the illegitimacy of it.’”

When contacted for comment, the Office of the Texas Governor told Yahoo News via email, “Andrew Oldham has an impressive and extensive background, as well as a robust understanding of the Constitution and the rule of law. Mr. Oldham has served with dedication and distinction as chief legal adviser in the General Counsel’s office, and the justice system would be well-served by his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Governor Abbott wholeheartedly supports his appointment to the court.”Even without a Supreme Court vacancy, Trump is reshaping the judiciary with his nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which comprises 11 circuit courts with jurisdiction over different regions of the country. All of the speakers on the press call expressed concern for what Oldham’s confirmation would mean for the Fifth Circuit, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

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