The confirmation of California lawyer Kenneth Lee marked the first time neither home-state senator had returned a blue slip, a Senate tradition in which the home-state senator gives their opinion of the nominee, the Hill reported.
Neither Sen. Dianne Feinstein nor Sen. Kamala Harris, both California Democrats, returned a blue slip on Lee’s nomination to the San Francisco-based court. Lee, 43, a native of South Korea, is a past special counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a Twitter message, Feinstein cited Lee’s writings on race and civil rights as reasons for her opposition. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agreed that Lee holds “shocking” positions on race and women’s reproductive rights.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called Lee “a man of high character” and a brilliant lawyer. The two attended law school together.
“Lee’s record shows that he is far outside the legal mainstream,” Feinstein said, according to the Washington Times.
Lee wrote in 1994 that gay people have a higher incidence of AIDS because they are more “promiscuous” than straight people. “Nine out of 10 people with AIDS are gay or drug users,” he wrote. He said he was “embarrassed” by that position during his confirmation hearing and that he had matured since then, according to the Hill.
In another article, he questioned why a woman would continue working for a man who had assaulted her “just so she can hold on to a part-time job.” In his confirmation hearing, he said at the time of the writing that he didn’t understand workplace dynamics, according to the Hill.
Lee’s nomination marks Trump’s 40th circuit judge appointment since taking office.