Washington County judge named to federal bench
President Donald Trump has named Washington County's top judge to serve on a federal appeals court, the White House announced Wednesday, Aug. 28.
The presiding judge on the Washington County Circuit Court, Danielle J. Hunsaker was one of four people whose names were forwarded to Trump for appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrats. Trump announced his intention to nominate Hunsaker to the position.
Hunsaker was named to serve on the Washington County Circuit Court by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown in November 2017. She replaced the retiring Suzanne Upton.
Read Sen. Ron Wyden's letter to President Donald Trump, dated Aug. 21, 2019, presenting the four candidates for appointment.
Hunsaker previously clerked for Ninth Circuit Senior Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, who was first appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. O'Scannlain, who ran for Congress as a Republican from Oregon in 1974, is considered one of the Ninth Circuit's more conservative jurists.
O'Scannlain is retiring, and Hunsaker would fill his seat.
At the time of her appointment to the Washington County Circuit Court, Hunsaker was a partner at Larkins Vacura Kayser LLP in Portland and president of the Washington County Bar Association.
Wyden, Merkley and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, convened a selection committee that came up with Hunsaker's name and those of three others the committee considered qualified to serve as Ninth Circuit appellate judges.
Trump's appointment from Oregon to the Ninth Circuit has already been the subject of controversy, as the News-Times' media partner, Oregon Public Broadcasting, reported earlier this month. Trump initially nominated Ryan Bounds, whom Wyden and Merkley both opposed.
While traditionally, a senator has been able to block the appointment of a federal judge from his or her home state by withholding what is known as a "blue slip," that practice — a courtesy afforded under both Democratic and Republican Senate leaders — was done away with last year as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has worked to confirm Trump's judicial nominees at a rapid pace.
Nonetheless, Bounds' nomination was effectively torpedoed after offensive statements he had made about sexual assault on college campuses surfaced, and McConnell scrapped a planned confirmation vote when it became clear he lacked the necessary support among Republican senators.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that the president's nominee was one of four people recommended for appointment by a selection committee convened by members of Congress from Oregon.
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