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Senate race: Renacci slams Brown for not supporting Trump judge picks

Brown’s team says he can’t support judges nominated by President Trump

An aide to Senate Republican candidate Jim Renacci accused Sen. Sherrod Brown of playing “politics with the federal courts” after Brown said he would oppose President Donald Trump’s nominations of Eric Murphy and Chad A. Readler to a federal appeals court in Cincinnati.

Brown, D-Ohio, announced his opposition to Murphy and Readler Thursday within hours after their nomination to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying he could not “support nominees who have actively worked to strip Ohioans of their rights.”

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Leslie Shedd, a Renacci campaign spokeswoman said Brown “ has a proven history of obstructing President Trump’s nominees. Only this time, he’s trying to block two qualified and deserving Ohioans from serving on the federal bench.”

“Ohio needs a senator who will work to get things done – not another career politician who plays politics with the federal courts,” she said.

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Murphy has been state solicitor in the office of Attorney General Mike DeWine since 2013, overseeing and arguing cases involving appeals before the Ohio Supreme Court, the 6th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Readler, a former partner in the Columbus law office of Jones Day, has been principal deputy and acting assistant attorney general for the civil division at the U.S. Department of Justice.

The nominations could emerge as a major issue in the Senate race between Brown and Renacci. Brown took the unusual step of announcing his opposition to both nominees before they had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In addition, Brown spokeswoman Jennifer Donohue said the senator will not return what is known as a blue slip to the judiciary committee on the nominations.

Historically, senators could block judicial nominations from their home states by not returning the blue slip to the committee. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has brushed aside Democrats who have refused to return a blue slip.

“Senator Brown has not technically received the blue slip from the Senate Judiciary Committee, but he does not plan to return it,” Donohue said. “Senator Brown made very clear to the White House after meeting with both candidates and reviewing their records that he could not support these nominees because of their records working to strip Ohioans of their rights and their failure to answer for those records in meetings with the senator.”

“Senator Brown actively tried to work with the White House and offered alternative choices – including respected conservative lawyers,” she said. “He remains willing to work with the White House on alternative candidates that he could support.”

RELATED: Brown launches ad campaign against Renacci

DeWine, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, said Murphy has “a sharp legal mind, and will interpret the law fairly. Eric has done a great job representing Ohio in federal court, before the Ohio Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, and I know that Eric will do an outstanding job as an appellate judge on the 6th Circuit. I urge the U.S. Senate to act on his nomination quickly.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he has “met with both Chad and Eric, and they are extremely well qualified to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. I look forward to supporting their nominations on the floor of the U.S. Senate.”

Trump tapped Murphy and Readler to fill the seats held by Alice Batchelder and Deborah Cook, who plan to take senior status.

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