President Donald Trump has once again announced his intent to nominate a Filipino American federal prosecutor to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, September 20.
Patrick J. Bumatay, who is an assistant attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California in San Diego, was previously tapped for the appeals court last October 2018, but the Senate did not entertain a confirmation hearing, resulting in the nomination to expire.
The Ninth Circuit — considered to be the most liberal of circuits — is the largest federal appeals court with 29 judges, serving nine western states including Alaska and Hawaii. It is headquartered in San Francisco.
Following the nomination last year, California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Bumatay had “no judicial experience,” while Sen. Kamala Harris likewise raised similar concerns. Trump then nominated the 41-year-old Fil-Am for a district judge position on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California this past January.
If confirmed to the Ninth Circuit, Bumatay would become the first Fil-Am judge to serve on a federal appeals court, and the second Fil-Am Article III judge ever in U.S. history. Bumatay would also become the second openly LGBT federal circuit court judge.
In his current position, which he has held since 2012, Bumatay is a member of the Appellate and Narcotics Section. He previously served as counselor to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions on various criminal issues, including the national opioid strategy and transnational organized crime.
“Patrick Bumatay will make a terrific judge on the Ninth Circuit,” Sessions said in a statement on Friday. “He has dedicated his career to upholding the rule of law. Patrick’s many fine qualities, including his integrity, intellect and collegiality, make him exceedingly worthy of this position.”
Bumatay has also served in the Department of Justice in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office of the Associate Attorney General, where he oversaw aspects of the department’s civil enforcement program, and the Office of Legal Policy.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, and an alumnus of Yale University, Bumatay started his career as a law clerk for Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Court, and for Judge Sandra L. Townes of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
He is also a member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, and the Federal Bar Association.
Like many second-generation Fil-Ams, Bumatay’s family follows the immigrant experience, with his grandfather arriving in California from the Philippines in the 1920s, and working as a farm laborer while earning advanced education degrees. His parents are medical doctors who came to the United States in the 1970s.
The Ninth Circuit has been the bane of conservatives and the Trump administration; the president has before blamed the Ninth Circuit for a “broken and unfair” federal court system.
Since Trump came into office, the Ninth Circuit’s moves have included blocking the president’s travel ban order and the shutdown of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and striking down restrictions on so-called sanctuary cities. (AJPress)