Senate Republicans Are Trying To Stop A Trump-Backed Nominee Hostile To Religious Freedom

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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A budding coalition of Republican lawmakers is opposing the renomination of Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after President Donald Trump renominated the Obama-era commissioner to another term on the anti-discrimination panel.

Much of the institutional religious right has mobilized in opposition to her reappointment, given the intensely progressive positions she has taken on a variety of issues, The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported.

“Commissioner Feldblum has a range of policy views that strike the general public as out of the mainstream,” a former senior career official at the EEOC told TheDCNF.

Bloomberg Law reported that GOP Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Steve Daines of Montana have joined with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah to block the Feldblum nomination. The four lawmakers are withholding support from a unanimous consent agreement necessary for her confirmation. The agreement would package Feldblum’s nomination with two other Republican appointees to the EEOC, allowing the Senate to process all three nominees on a single up-or-down vote.

Absent unanimous consent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would have to schedule separate confirmation votes for each appointee. As the backlog of Senate business builds, there is little appetite to expend precious floor time better spent on judgeships and appropriations bills. (RELATED: Brock Turner’s Judge Removed From Office By California Voters)

As an academic at the Georgetown University Law Center, Feldblum advocated for the primacy of LGBT rights over religious liberty where the two conflict, and questioned the utility of marriage as a social good.

Under her leadership, the EEOC has broken with the Trump administration on a defining controversy of civil rights law, arguing existing anti-discrimination statutes secure workplace protections for gay employees. Although Congress has repeatedly declined to enact the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which forbids employment discrimination against LGBT people, Feldblum and other progressive legal advocates now argue that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act already secures such protections.

Although a number of federal appeals courts have endorsed this reading of Title VII, the Trump administration opposes it.

Feldblum was renominated pursuant to a deal between Senate Democrats and the Trump White House, through which two Republican appointees will be confirmed without opposition on the condition that Feldblum is allowed to remain in her post. The White House told Bloomberg Law that there are no current plans to rescind her nomination.

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