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Biden scraps plans to nominate conservative anti-abortion lawyer to federal judgeship

<i>Evan Vucci/AP</i><br/>President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House
Evan Vucci/AP
President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

By Betsy Klein, CNN

The White House has scrapped President Joe Biden’s plans to nominate an anti-abortion Republican as a federal judge in Kentucky, citing opposition to the nomination from Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

“In considering potential District Court nominees, the White House learned that Senator Rand Paul will not return a blue slip on Chad Meredith. Therefore, the White House will not nominate Mr. Meredith,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

The news was first reported by the New York Times.

Meredith’s prospective appointment was first reported by The Courier-Journal, and the nomination had been described by people with knowledge of the matter as part of a potential deal with US Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the chamber’s top Republican.

Reports of the potential nomination drew fierce criticism from Democrats and pro-abortion rights organizations.

CNN previously reported that the White House informed Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s office in late June — the day before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — that Biden intended to make the nomination, according to emails obtained by CNN on Wednesday through an open records request.

In an email dated June 23, White House aide Kathleen Marshall, who works in its office of intergovernmental affairs, wrote to Coulter Minix in Beshear’s office that Meredith was “to be nominated tomorrow” to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The subject line of the email read “Close hold,” and the body of the correspondence included a summary of Meredith’s resume.

Minix responded the same day, writing in part: “Appreciate the heads up.”

On June 24, the Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate federal abortion rights.

Meredith worked for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a former McConnell staffer considered a rising star in the Republican Party, as well as clerked for Amul Thapar, a federal appeals court judge who has long had the support of McConnell. McConnell pushed Thapar as a potential Supreme Court nominee during the Trump administration.

For Biden, any deal could have cleared a path for some of the dozens of nominees currently held up in the Senate just months before the midterm elections. As Democrats continue to struggle in polling, White House officials have started to plan for the possibility of Republican takeovers in the House and, potentially, the Senate — something that would throw a major roadblock in front of any future Biden nominees.

Deals for judicial nominees aren’t new — the realities of the Senate have required them for Biden’s predecessors — and no Republican takes more interest in the federal judiciary than McConnell.

In another email dated June 29, also obtained by CNN via an open records request, Marshall, the White House aide, wrote to the same aide in Beshear’s office: “Coulter — Sorry for not including this in the original e-mail but I wanted to clarify that the e-mail I sent was pre-decisional and privileged information. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

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CNN’s MJ Lee and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.

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