A key swing vote, Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she will oppose the confirmation of attorney Sarah Pitlyk to the federal bench because she is pro-life.
Collins is a rare pro-abortion Republican who sometimes sides with her party on judicial nominations, including that of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and opposes them on other occasions.
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 who has worked at the Thomas More Society, a leading pro-life legal group.
Her nomination has become a key target of abortion advocacy groups and the pro-abortion Democrats who they support.
In Collins’ announcement this week, the Maine senator expressed concerns about Pitlyk’s lack of experience and her pro-life work as an attorney, according to Bloomberg.
“My concern is not based on Ms. Pitlyk’s personal views on abortion or various medical decisions, which she has every right to hold,” Collins said in a statement. “I do question, however, given her pattern of strident advocacy, whether she could put aside her personal views on these matters.”
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.
At the Thomas More Society, Pitlyk 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.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved her nomination earlier this fall. Her confirmation now is before the full Senate body.
Collins’ announcement this week does not doom Pitlyk’s confirmation, Bloomberg noted. However, Republicans hold only a narrow majority in the U.S. Senate, and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski also is pro-abortion.
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Pitlyk’s confirmation also may depend on Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania who sometimes vote pro-life. However, Casey cast doubt on the sincerity of his pro-life position earlier this year after attending a prominent pro-abortion group’s fundraising event.
Mainstream news outlets describe Pitlyk as a controversial nominee because of her pro-life, pro-religious liberty record. But most mainstream news outlets did not scrutinize President Barack Obama’s radical pro-abortion judicial appointees in the same way.
“Why are liberal atheist proaborts considered fine for the Federal bench but a #prolife person is ‘controversial?’” Cheryl Sullenger, vice president of Operation Rescue, wrote on Twitter in reaction to reports about Pitlyk earlier this summer. “[The mainstream media’s] biased agenda is showing!”
Criticized by pro-abortion Democrats during committee hearings, Pitlyk assured lawmakers that she would be a fair and impartial judge.
“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 responded, “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.”
ACTION: Contact U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.