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Paul sinks controversial Kentucky judicial nomination, to the relief of Democrats

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Zach Gibson/AP
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FR170359 AP
FILE - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Ky., left, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., appear on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 11, 2017. Paul on Monday, July 18, 2022, accused McConnell of cutting “a secret deal with the White House that fell apart,” blaming a lack of communication by his fellow Kentuckian for the failure of a federal judicial nomination. (AP Photo/Zach Gibson, File)

A controversial federal judicial nomination has been scuttled by Sen. Rand Paul, who says it was the subject of a secret agreement between President Joe Biden and Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Progressives have been seething for weeks over reported White House plans to nominate conservative Chad Meredith, who has opposed abortion rights, to an open seat on the U.S. District Court in Kentucky’s Eastern District.

Democrats as prominent as Kentucky’s own Congressman John Yarmuth suggested early on that the potential nomination was an effort to appease Sen. Mitch McConnell and stop Republicans from blocking future nominations. McConnell told the New York Times there was no deal, and Biden was offering the nomination as an act of collegiality and personal friendship.

Asked about that act of "friendship" Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre only confirmed that the nomination would not move forward.

"That part of your comment is not something that I'm aware of. I'm just telling you where we are."
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

And where we are is a “strange bedfellows” moment — with Republican Sen. Paul pulling the rug out from underneath the nomination of a like-minded judge, handing a win to Democrats who opposed Meredith’s nomination to the bench. Paul accused McConnell of not consulting with him on the judicial pick.

While the White House has not elaborated on the reason for the initial choice, or what Biden might have been promised in return, Jean-Pierre reiterated the president’s commitment to protecting abortion rights as states sort through the aftermath of the high court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.