One of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees is pulling his name from consideration for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench, the second such politically painful withdrawal this month.
Jabari Wamble, currently a federal prosecutor, is yanking his nomination to fill a district court seat in Kansas, according to a letter sent to Biden on Tuesday. His move follows that of Biden judicial pick Michael Delaney, who stepped out of contention as an appellate court nominee last week as it became clear that he lacked the Democratic support needed to advance.
“After careful thought and consideration, I feel that it is best for me to continue my work at the United States’s Attorney’s Office in the District of Kansas. I have been humbled and honored by the faith you placed in me with this nomination,” Wamble wrote in the Tuesday letter. He is the son-in-law of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).
Aides were under the impression that the American Bar Association would rate Wamble “not qualified” for the nomination, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke candidly on condition of anonymity. The ABA has not issued a public ruling on Wamble on its website, and never made an official judgement on him.
Biden previously nominated Wamble for an appellate judgeship last year, but the Senate never confirmed him. He was nominated for the federal district court seat this year, but Kansas’s two GOP senators have not indicated whether they would waive their veto power over his nomination — a Senate tradition known as the blue slip.
The state’s two Republican senators, Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall, both have said they’re waiting to see who is nominated for Kansas’ appellate court opening before weighing in on Wamble. The White House has been working closely with Moran to fill the state’s vacancies.
“President Biden is proud to have nominated Jabari Wamble, a deeply qualified attorney who has served with distinction as a prosecutor at the state and federal level in Kansas, who received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Kansas, and who has dedicated his life to serving the people of Kansas,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the White House.
Wamble’s withdrawal comes as Biden picks for the judiciary have faced notable pushback. This month, POLITICO revealed that Delaney advised a free-market legal group that opposed Biden on key issues, including a major climate change executive order. Two weeks later, Delaney asked Biden to pull his nomination.
And last week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) voted against confirming another Biden pick for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Nancy Abudu. The Senate still confirmed Abudu, though Manchin’s no vote was the first time a Democratic senator broke with the Biden White House on a judicial confirmation vote.
Overall, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Biden have had significant success filling open judgeships, especially at the appellate level. But federal district courts have proven more challenging, with some Republicans declining to approve of nominees by withholding their blue slips — sparking a progressive campaign to do away with the custom.
Durbin declined to comment on Wamble’s nomination.
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