Thank You Rand Paul (I Can’t Believe That I Just Said That)

The White House is abandoning plans to nominate a Kentucky lawyer who opposes abortion rights and is backed by Senator Mitch McConnell to a federal court seat, citing opposition from Senator Rand Paul, Mr. McConnell’s home-state colleague.

The resistance from Mr. McConnell’s fellow Republican marked a new twist over a potential nomination that had prompted outrage on the left. Democrats were incensed that President Biden’s team had agreed to advance a conservative chosen by Mr. McConnell to fill a district court vacancy as the party is stepping up its focus on countering new abortion restrictions.

The prospective nominee, Chad Meredith, had successfully defended Kentucky’s anti-abortion law as a lawyer for the state. Mr. Biden’s plan to nominate him was made public by The Louisville Courier-Journal just before the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade precedent that established abortion rights.

Mr. McConnell, the minority leader, who has a deep interest in shaping the federal judiciary, said the White House intended to follow through on its commitment to nominate Mr. Meredith until Mr. Paul objected. Mr. Paul informed the White House that he would not return a “blue slip” consenting to the nomination of Mr. Meredith, who is now in private practice.

………

The outcome has left Mr. McConnell frustrated and some Democrats mystified. It pulled back the curtain on a seldom discussed back channel of communication that remains between Mr. McConnell and Mr. Biden, who were once negotiating partners in the Senate but who have more recently had little to do with one another as the Kentucky Republican works to sink the Democratic president’s agenda.

Still, Mr. McConnell said he had persuaded the White House to do him a “personal favor” by putting a young conservative on the bench, only to be thwarted by a Republican colleague.

………

“I said, what’s in it for us?” Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters this week, describing how he pressed the White House on the Kentucky court seat nomination. “They haven’t given me a specific answer.”

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