Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved two nominees to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals with a proven record of fighting to strip Ohioans of their rights: Eric Murphy and Chad Readler. Both of their records are too extreme for Ohio, and I will keep fighting against giving these judges a lifetime appointment.
As the Judiciary Committee considered these nominees last week, I had the opportunity to speak with civil rights hero and Ohioan, Jim Obergefell. Because of Jim’s landmark 2015 case, marriage equality is now the law of the land all over the country.
But if it were up to Eric Murphy, Mr. Obergefell would have lost that case. Murphy argued against marriage equality in Mr. Obergefell’s case, as the State Solicitor of Ohio. Murphy actually argued that marriage equality would be “disruptive” to our democracy.
In addition to arguing against marriage equality, Murphy defended Ohio’s voter purge that unfairly stripped innocent Ohioans of their voter registrations. And he worked to restrict access to contraceptives for women, filing a brief in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case seeking to deny women access to health care under the Affordable Care Act, as well as representing employers in other similar cases.
Chad Readler also has a clear record of trying to take away the rights of Ohioans.
As Chair of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Chad Readler pushed to eliminate reforms to hold Ohio charter schools accountable. He even proposed eliminating the state constitutional provision that guarantees Ohio students a quality public education.
Readler also worked to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that protects Ohioans from abuses by banks and payday lenders, and has worked to strip Ohioans of their voting rights.
But perhaps worst of all is his work on health care that threatens the coverage of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions – including more than 5 million Ohioans under age 65.
Last summer, Readler did what three career attorneys with the Department of Justice refused to do – he filed a brief making outlandish arguments challenging the law protecting Americans with preexisting conditions.
And he was nominated for this judgeship the very next day.
This unprecedented move earned him rebukes from across the legal community. Three career attorneys withdrew from the case – and one went as far as to resign altogether – in objection to the Department of Justice’s unprecedented actions.
One Republican Senator called Readler’s arguments in the brief “as far-fetched” as he’d ever seen.
Most voting rights and women’s rights cases will not end up at the Supreme Court. Neither will most criminal cases or consumer protection matters. Instead, many of these cases from Ohio will be decided by judges on the Sixth Circuit.
Eric Murphy and Chad Readler have spent their careers working to strip Ohioans of their rights, and the stakes are too high to put them on the bench for life.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic U.S. Senator representing the state of Ohio.