On May 21, 2019, the U.S. Senate confirmed Daniel Collins to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on a 53-46 vote. President Donald Trump (R) nominated Collins to the seat on November 13, 2018.
Collins was a partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP from 2003 to 2019. He also previously worked as an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. Collins was a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States and to 9th Circuit Judge Dorothy Nelson.
Collins obtained an A.B. summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1985. In 1988, he earned a J.D. with distinction from Stanford University, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif. During his legal studies, Collins also served as a note editor on the Stanford Law Review.
Collins was confirmed along party lines. Home-state Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kamala Harris (D) of California voted against his nomination. Feinstein and Harris said the White House nominated Collins without consulting them. In a statement after his confirmation, Feinstein said, “I am concerned that Mr. Collins has not demonstrated and does not embody the characteristics that we expect of all federal judges. I also believe that Mr. Collins’s record on women’s reproductive rights, executive power, civil liberties, and criminal justice matters puts him far outside the judicial mainstream.”
In 2018, then-White House Counsel Don McGahn wrote in a letter to then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that the White House tried to negotiate with the California senators. He said he reached out to Feinstein on multiple occasions and stated that Harris had “refused to engage with the White House at any level, whatsoever on the issue.” McGahn said the president was “exercising his prerogative to nominate his own well-qualified nominees.”
The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system.
The 9th Circuit currently has two confirmed nominees—Collins and Kenneth Kiyul Lee. Once they receive their judicial commissions and take their judicial oaths, the 9th Circuit will have two vacancies, 11 judges appointed by Republican presidents, and 16 judges appointed by Democratic presidents.
The Senate has now confirmed 112 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—69 district court judges, 41 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017. At the end of the 115th Congress in January 2019, the Senate had confirmed 85 of the president’s judicial nominees.