Trent Lott Ties, Civil Rights Rulings Plague Trump Judge Pick from Mississippi


An embattled Mississippi judge's nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans faces opposition from civil rights groups that claim he has a poor record on issues involving race and sexual assault—and from conservatives who claim he is not conservative enough.

For the fifth time, the U.S. Senate committee in charge of advancing federal court nominees cancelled plans to hold a vote on Judge Halil Suleyman "Sul" Ozerden last month, and has not rescheduled plans to hold a vote.

In an October letter, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Vanita Gupta wrote to senators, sharing concerns that Ozerden "has a track record of reflexively dismissing the claims of discrimination victims without letting them have their day in court."

In July hearings, Republican lawmakers questioned his credentials on "religious liberty," pointing to his 2012 dismissal of a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate. Trump nominated Ozerden in June at the urging of White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and against the advice of the White House Counsel's Office, Politico reported in October. Mulvaney is a personal friend of Ozerden.

Even as Republicans question Ozerden's conservative bona fides, Gupta's letter raised concerns about Ozerden's past decisions, too.

'I'm a Man, I'm Gonna Look'

In one case, an Alabama worker named Mekeva Tennort alleged that her employer, Rite Way Service, Inc., fired her after she complained that a male supervisor was sexually harassing a female coworker. She claimed the supervisor said the woman was wearing tight pants and added, "I'm a man, I'm gonna look." Tennort also described an incident where the man allegedly "pretended to strike the female coworker's behind and exclaimed, 'ooh wee.'"

"Judge Ozerden concluded that Ms. Tennort could not have reasonably believed that the male supervisor's conduct violated the law, and he granted summary judgment to

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