With the start of a new Congress on Thursday, nominations President Trump sent to the last Congress have expired, including a highly controversial one that a conservative senator hopes won’t be nominated again in the new year.
The re-nomination of Commissioner Chai Feldblum to another term in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been opposed by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, for months. Lee has long said that Feldblum’s views on marriage and LGBT issues are dangerous to the First Amendment.
As early as February, Lee warned that the nominee “wants to use the federal agency’s power to undermine our nation’s founding principles,” and effectively blocked Feldblum from being confirmed again during the 115th Congress.
“And don’t think for a second that you, your family, and your neighbors will be left alone if Feldblum gets her way,” reads a press release from the senator’s office highlighting the nominee’s more radical statements. “Feldblum believes her radical agenda ‘cannot be adequately advanced if pockets of resistance… are permitted to flourish.’ She therefore has argued that ‘no individual exceptions based on religious beliefs’ should ever be allowed if they conflict with ‘the goal of liberty for gay people.’”
Feldblum was first nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009. When she didn’t get a floor vote, Obama appointed her during a Senate recess, after which the Senate confirmed her by a vote of 54-41, with only two Republicans voting to confirm: Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
Lee also highlighted several of these positions in a recent floor speech. Feldblum responded in a Medium post saying that she “did not recognize the person Senator Lee was talking about” because the “quotes were either misconstrued or taken out of context.”
“Ms. Feldblum’s views on using government power to undermine religious liberty are too extreme and contrary to existing law,” Lee said in a statement to BlazeTV. “I hope President Trump chooses a different nominee this year.”
Back in March, Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro called Feldblum “President Trump’s worst federal nomination” and referred to her views as “fully radicalized stuff.”
“We need a conservative, now, to lead the EEOC and push back against the radical courts,” Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz wrote in late 2017, “not maintain Obama’s personnel to encourage the courts to be even more radical.”
Since Lee blocked the slate of nominees, which also included two others, the commission does not have a quorum going into this year, a paywalled article at Law360 explains. This means that while the body will be able to continue investigating and bringing suits in harassment cases, it will not be able to make policy.
The EEOC and other government bodies like it are part of what many constitutionalists refer to as the “fourth branch” of the federal government, so a temporary hiccup in the commission’s operations shouldn’t bother too many on the Right anyway.