Some of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees will face criticism from Republicans at today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for their track record of letting criminals out on bail and their legal theories on the Second Amendment.
Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will preside over the hearing for six of Biden’s judicial nominees, just a handful of the dozens of nominees Democrats hope to confirm in the lame-duck Congress before the nominations expire next year. Several of these nominees are expected to get pushback from Republican lawmakers.
Judge Jonathan James Grey, who was nominated to the District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan, last year granted bail for a man charged with embezzling $2 million and who the government considered a flight risk because for his history of domestic violence, weapons use, a DUI conviction, and lying to and hiding from federal agents, according to a Republican committee aide. Another judge later reversed Grey’s decision and ordered the criminal to be detained while waiting for his trial.
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In at least two other instances, Grey released “dangerous” defendants on bail, according to the aide.
A second nominee up today is Judge Ramon Reyes, who was nominated to the Eastern District of New York. Republicans say that on at least three occasions, Reyes ordered the release of criminals out on bail, only to have another judge reverse those decisions and put the criminals back behind bars while awaiting trial.
Republicans are also expected to target Julia Kobick, the Massachusetts deputy solicitor general who is nominated to the District Court in Massachusetts. In 2016, Kobick supported the conviction of a Massachusetts woman in 2016 for owning a stun gun that she used to defend herself against her violent ex-boyfriend.
Kobick argued that the woman, Jaime Caetano, should go to prison for violating Massachusetts gun laws and argued that the Second Amendment didn’t apply since stun guns weren’t invented in 1789.
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The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which unanimously rejected Kobick’s argument and called it “frivolous.”
In a concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito said that “Caetano’s encounter with her violent ex-boyfriend illustrates the connection between those fundamental rights: By arming herself, Caetano was able to protect against a physical threat that restraining orders had proved useless to prevent.”
“And, commendably, she did so by using a weapon that posed little, if any, danger of permanently harming either herself or the father of her children,” Alito added.
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Also before the committee today is Judge Todd Edelman, who was the nominee to the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C. This month, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., grilled Edelman for releasing a convicted criminal in 2020 who later that year was involved in the murder of a 10-year-old boy in Washington and entered a guilty plea related to that crime.