In a party-line vote on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of a St. Louis County anti-abortion and religious rights lawyer in line to become St. Louis’ next federal judge.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias, an expert on the judicial nomination process, said that discussion around Pitlyk’s nomination dominated the morning, with Democrats citing the bar association rating and being “pretty scathing in their criticism of her.”
Tobias said Republicans, including Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, offered little to no defense, perhaps because they knew they had the votes to advance her.
He said Pitlyk might get her Senate vote this year, although there are a number of nominees in front of her. No White House nominees have been voted down, he said, although added it was “pretty clear she’s not in the mainstream.”
Pitlyk’s nomination has been lauded by anti-abortion groups and opposed by pro-choice groups. A coalition of groups supporting reproductive rights called for the withdrawal of her nomination Thursday, shortly after the vote.
The ABA said Pitlyk has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel nor examined a witness, taken a deposition, argued a motion in state or federal court, picked a jury or participated in any stage of a criminal matter. The group praised Pitlyk’s “great intelligence, high character, and experience researching and writing briefs,” however.
Pitlyk graduated summa cum laude from Boston College before receiving master’s degrees in philosophy from Georgetown University and in applied biomedical ethics from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, where she was a Fulbright Scholar, her bio says.
She graduated from Yale Law School in 2008, where she founded Yale Law Students for Life.
Pitlyk worked for the Covington & Burling firm in Washington, clerked for Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was an appeals court judge at the time and now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court, and then for a law firm in the St. Louis area.