Senate confirms ACLU lawyer in New York federal court after GOP backlash

By Andrew Goudsward

(Reuters) – A voting rights lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union overcame fierce Republican opposition on Wednesday to win U.S. Senate confirmation as a judge in the Manhattan Federal District Court.

Dale Ho, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, was confirmed in a near-partisan 50-49 vote. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only Democrat to vote against the nomination, citing “earlier inflammatory statements” by Ho.

Ho has faced intense resistance from Republicans over his past social media posts criticizing party senators and conservative policies, which they say cast doubt on his fitness to serve as a judge. federal.

Ho apologized during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2021 for using “overheated rhetoric” on social media, including criticizing Utah Sen. Mike Lee for tweets claiming that backing the personal freedom was a more important objective than the guarantee of democracy.

Ho amply defended his past advocacy and pledged to serve “a fair, neutral and impartial arbiter of the law.” Progressives cast Ho as a civil rights champion.

While at the ACLU, Ho challenged Republican-backed voting restrictions and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that blocked the Trump administration from including a citizenship question in the U.S. census. of 2020.

Ho is Biden’s fifth confirmed judicial nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and will be the second active Asian American judge in the field.

Biden has sought to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the US justice system and appoint judges from diverse professional backgrounds such as public defenders and civil rights lawyers.

“Under previous administrations, lawyers with careers in civil rights organizations were too often ignored when choosing judges,” said Brian Fallon, executive director of the progressive group Demand Justice, on Wednesday. “Not anymore.”

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by David Bario and Alistair Bell)

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