Speed Reads

Kentucky vs. Kentucky

Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell blame each other for Biden dropping nomination of anti-abortion judge

When the Biden administration dropped the proposed nomination of a conservative anti-abortion lawyer for a lifetime federal judgeship in Kentucky on Friday, a White House spokesman cited opposition from home-state Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed, saying President Biden had agreed to nominate lawyer Chad Meredith as a "personal friendship gesture" to him, until Paul sabotaged the nomination. 

"The net result of this is it has prevented me from getting my kind of judge out of a liberal Democratic president," McConnell told The New York Times on Friday. He called Paul's position "just utterly pointless." 

Paul hit back on Monday, saying he supported Meredith joining the federal judiciary but McConnell should have discussed the nomination with him. "Unfortunately, instead of communicating and lining up support for him, Sen. McConnell chose to cut a secret deal with the White House that fell apart," he said in a statement. "McConnell's to blame for tanking this because he tried to do it secretly," Paul told Politico.

A person with direct knowledge of Meredith's nomination process told Politico that McConnell and Paul's offices "had conversations for months about this on the staff level." And McConnell on Friday denied there was any deal with Biden and scoffed at the idea Paul could have lined up such a win: "The president would not have been taking a recommendation from Rand Paul, I can assure you."

Biden had informed Kennedy Gov. Andy Beshear (D) of his intention to nominate Meredith on June 23, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported, but the nomination was put on hold after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade the following morning. Beshear and other Democrats in Kentucky and elsewhere were baffled and infuriated by the decision to nominate a Federalist Society member who had defended the state's anti-abortion law in court. 

"It's unlikely that the Democratic Senate would have confirmed Meredith anyway, given his conservative views and the opposition from several leading liberals that stemmed in part from his anti-abortion rights stance," Politico notes. But McConnell and his allies were happy to blame Paul. 

"I suspect the White House is relieved; I suspect Dick Durbin is relieved; and I suspect that the political people in the Biden team are relieved that Rand Paul blew this up," a McConnell adviser told USA Today on Monday. "He did them a huge favor."