Judicial Nominations

9th Circuit nominee apologizes for 'overheated' rhetoric of articles he wrote for Stanford newspaper

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The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals./Shutterstock.com.

A nominee to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals apologized during his confirmation hearing Wednesday for his tone in opinion articles that criticized “race-think” and sensitivity training that he wrote for the newspaper when he attended Stanford University.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held the hearing for Ryan Bounds, an assistant U.S. attorney in Oregon, even though that state’s two Democratic U.S. senators refused to return blue slips indicating their approval, report the Washington Post, the Recorder, Courthouse News Service and Law360.

“I share the concerns of many that the rhetoric I used in debating campus politics back in the early ’90s on Stanford’s campus was often overheated, overbroad,” Bounds said. “I do want to make sure to say what those columns were about, which was about how best to assure a diverse and mutually tolerant campus.”

Bounds said he should have been more respectful of opposing viewpoints in the articles. He also pointed to his work to advance diversity in the legal profession.

Bounds was chair of Multnomah Bar Association’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, but he resigned in February after the college writings surfaced, according to Courthouse News Service.

Bounds said he had not provided the articles to a judicial evaluation committee formed by Oregon’s senators because he was asked to provide writings only as far back as law school. He said the articles were attached to his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire, however.

One of Bounds’ articles criticized “race-think” in which groups of “multicultural demagogues” create racial divisions at Stanford University.

“During my years in our Multicultural Garden of Eden,” he wrote, “I have often marveled at the odd strategies that some of the more strident racial factions of the student body employ in their attempts to ‘heighten consciousness,’ ‘build tolerance,’ ‘promote diversity’ and otherwise convince us to partake of that fruit which promises to open our eyes to a PC version of the knowledge of good and evil. I am mystified because these tactics seem always to contribute more to restricting consciousness, aggravating intolerance and pigeonholing cultural identities than many a Nazi bookburning.”

Another article criticized mandatory sensitivity training after vandalism of a gay pride statue. Answering a senator’s question, Bounds said he does believe that LGBT people and people of color are marginalized. He went on to discuss an LGBT colleague’s disclosure of a physical assault. Bounds choked up as he spoke, and said the information was “very upsetting.”

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