By Nate Raymond
July 6 (Reuters) – Newly released emails show that President Joe Biden planned to nominate a Republican opposed to abortion to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge in Kentucky a day before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear's office on Wednesday released emails from a White House official advising that Biden intended to nominate Chad Meredith, a former state solicitor general, on June 24 to serve as a district court judge.
A Democrat, Biden has been sharply criticized by progressives in his own party and abortion rights organizations like Planned Parenthood since reports emerged last week that the White House was considering Meredith, a conservative who has defended abortion restrictions in Kentucky.
Ever since the Louisville Courier-Journal first reported the news, the White House has declined to confirm the planned nomination. A spokesperson on Wednesday again said it does not comment on judicial vacancies until nominees are named.
In a June 23 email released in response to a public records request, Kathleen Marshall, a White House senior adviser to governors in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, wrote a Beshear staffer to say Meredith would be nominated "tomorrow."
The next day, the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Roe decision that recognized the constitutional right of women nationwide to obtain abortions.
In a subsequent June 29 email sent hours before the Courier-Journal's first report on the nomination, Marshall wrote to clarify that her original message was "pre-decisional and privileged information."
Meredith, now of counsel at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, did not respond to requests for comment.
Beshear and Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky, both Democrats, oppose the nomination, which Yarmuth has said is likely "a part of some larger deal on judicial nominations" between Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
Approval by McConnell, who represents Kentucky, is needed under Senate customs for district court nominees from his home state.
Robert Steurer, a spokesperson for McConnell, said his office "won't have a comment until if/when the president makes his nomination."
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; additional reporting by Alexandra Alper in Washington, D.C., Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Howard Goller)
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