Senate Democrats attacked a federal judicial nominee Wednesday because of her work defending pro-life advocates and the rights of unborn babies.
Sarah E. Pitlyk, nominated by President Donald Trump in August, would replace U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry in St. Louis, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Pitlyk is a strong human rights advocate and defender of religious freedom through the Thomas More Society, a leading pro-life legal group.
On Wednesday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee criticized Pitlyk for her work on abortion and religious freedom issues, according to Courthouse News.
“How can you ensure that a litigant in your courtroom seeking to vindicate her right to an abortion could trust your impartiality given your zealous and passionate advocacy?” questioned U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat.
Pitlyk said she believes she could be fair and impartial on the bench. She also said she is not the first judicial nominee with a history of advocacy on political issues, the report continued.
“I think I stand in a long line of other people who have sat at this table who have had histories in advocacy or in issue-related advocacy or in politics and who have become very distinguished jurists,” Pitlyk said.
Democrats also criticized her based on the “not qualified” rating she received from the American Bar Association. The ABA argued that Pitlyk has does not have adequate trial and litigation experience to be a federal judge, Bloomberg reports.
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U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, questioned her about her experience, and Pitlyk admitted that she has never taken a deposition or cross-examined a witness, according to the report.
However, she also defended her experience, explaining that she is a working mother and her colleagues have accommodated her desire to spend time with her children, Courthouse News reports.
“I have been very fortunate to work in the last two environments I’ve worked in, at small firms with very accommodating and flexible colleagues who want the best for me and for my family in addition to the best for our clients, and so I have had the luxury of getting to be as protected as possible and as supported as possible by my colleagues,” Pitlyk said.
Republican Senators, who control the committee and likely will support Pitlyk’s nomination, defended her. They also criticized the ABA as a biased political organization.
According to a White House news release, Pitlyk served as a law clerk to Judge Brett Kavanaugh before he was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. She earned degrees from Yale Law School, Boston College, Georgetown University and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.
According to her biography, she worked on cases involving the custody of a human embryo and the unconstitutional St. Louis ordinance that declared the city to be an “abortion sanctuary.” She also has been involved in the defense of David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress and numerous other cases.
Pro-life organizations have praised Trump repeatedly for nominating conservative judges to various courts, including Amy Coney Barrett, Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and others.
CORRECTION: This article’s headline has been updated to exclude the ABA and improve accuracy.