‘Not qualified?’ No problem. Pa’s Toomey votes to confirm Trump’s anti-abortion federal court pick | Tuesday Morning Coffee

December 10, 2019 7:25 am

U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) of Pennsylvania (Capital-Star file)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If there’s one promise that President Donald Trump (who’s campaigning in Hershey this Tuesday) can brag about actually keeping without mauling the truth too seriously, it’s his vow to pack the federal judiciary with conservative judges who are pro-business and hostile to abortion rights.

And last week, the embattled White House got another judicial appointment over the goal line with Sarah Pitlyk.

The U.S. Senate voted 49-44 last week to confirm Pitlyk, who’s earned the ire of progressives for her opposition not only to abortion access, but also to fertility treatments and IVF.

Until her confirmation to the federal bench for the Eastern District of Missouri, Pitlyk, 42, an attorney for the anti-choice Thomas More Society, had never tried a case. She netted a “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Associationaccording to Slate.

Pennsylvania’s two United States senators, Democrat Bob Casey Jr., of Scranton, and Pat Toomey, of Lehigh County, stuck with their respective caucus’ on the confirmation vote. Casey, who opposes abortion, but supports family planning and access to contraception to reduce its necessity, was a “No” vote on confirmation.

Toomey, who opposes abortion rights, but doesn’t have the culture warrior profile of other Senate Republicans, was a “Yes” vote to confirm, an official Senate roll call showed.

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As Slate notes, Pitlyk has:

” … co-authored an amicus brief opposing California’s ART protections, asserting (without evidence) that “the practice of surrogacy has grave effects on society, such as diminished respect for motherhood and the unique mother-child bond.”

Pitlyk has also declared (again without evidence) that surrogacy ‘is harmful to mothers and children, so it’s a practice society should not be enforcing.’

And she has proclaimed that frozen embryos should be recognized as human beings under the law, writing that these ‘children’ are ‘killed’ when embryos are destroyed. Pitlyk’s position—that states should treat embryos as humans—would likely outlaw not only abortion but also IVF and surrogacy.”

Toomey, who’s likely facing a tough re-election in 2022, unsurprisingly came under fire from Pennsylvania Democrats for his vote, as well as his past support for defunding Planned Parenthood, and past public statements that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided.

Toomey has taken his anti-women views to extreme by voting for a judge who not only wants to strip health care rights from women, but also wants to rob them of the opportunity to have children and start families through IVF and surrogacy,” Beth Melena, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party said in an email.

“We already knew that Pat Toomey supports repealing Roe vs. Wade, ripping health care coverage from over 90,000 Pennsylvanians who rely on Planned Parenthood for access to birth control and cancer screenings and treatments, and putting doctors who perform abortions in jail,” Melena continued. “But now Pat Toomey wants the tens of thousands of couples who conceive through IVF or choose surrogacy to be denied their right to start a family.”

Toomey’s office, through a spokesman, declined a request for comment for this story.

Our Stuff.

Elizabeth Hardison leads our coverage this morning, with a rundown of a busy day before the state House Judiciary Committee, which made changes to sentencing and probation reform bills, drawing ire from advocates.

Stephen Caruso has what you need to know about a conservative group, meeting in Harrisburg this week, that’s trying to put a GOP face on clean energy policies. 

Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender caught up with U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, as the House Judiciary Committee went through another marathon day of impeachment hearings. The Delaware County Democrat is the panel’s vice chairwoman.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Fletcher McClellan picks his Top 10 Pennsylvania political stories of the 2010s. Two Vanderbilt University scholars explain how installment loans are becoming as pervasive and damaging as payday loans. Pennsylvania currently bans payday lending.

President Donald Trump waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House after disembarking Marine One Tuesday, July 30, 2019, following his trip to Williamsburg, Va. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour, Flickr Commons)

The Inquirer
 looks at President Donald Trump’s rally in Dauphin County on Tuesday night, a swing county that’s becoming progressively more purple.
Central Pennsylvania voters mostly want President Trump to be himself when he visits Dauphin County on Tuesday night, PennLive reports.
How about Gov. Pat Toomey? The Republican is keeping his 2022 options openPennLive reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM looks at Philly’s efforts to plant more trees in a city that badly needs them.
Pennsylvania prison inmates are billed “millions” in rent payments for their stays behind bars, the PA Post reports. looks at states’ shift away from merit, which tends to reward white students, to need, when they make financial aid awards for college.
Democrats are set to roll out two articles of impeachment this morning, Politico reports.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
does a live phoner with KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh at 8:07 a.m. this morning. At 2 p.m., he’ll do a walking tour of downtown Honesdale, Pa.

What Goes On.
1:30 p.m., Main Rotunda: 
Blue and Gold Star mothers, along with members of the military, lay wreaths in a Wreaths Across America ceremony.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Rep. Dave Delloso
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Kyle Mullins
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Sharif Street
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a truly preposterous $15,500 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Democratic consultant, Mark Nevins, of Philadelphia, and state Rep. Greg Rothman, R-Cumberland, both of whom celebrate today. Congrats and enjoy the day, gents.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a favorite from Sam Fender. It’s ‘Hypersonic Missiles.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
 beat Washington by a pretty decisive 5-2 on Monday night.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.