U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, pressed Oldham on a 2016 speech in which the nominee called administrative agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency “fundamentally illegitimate” and “enraging.”
“The comments you’re quoting came from a speech I was making on behalf of the governor,” Oldham said. “He was my client, and I was advocating his position.”
“Come on. Don’t kid me. You used a word that was highly personal — you said it was ‘enraging,’” Whitehouse shot back. Then he posed his question again, pausing between each word: “Were you enraged?”
“I was frustrated — on behalf of my client — for a series of litigation matters,” Oldham acknowledged. A minute later he re-emphasized: “My perspective as an advocate has no bearing on my perspective as a jurist.”
Oldham is the Trump administration’s fifth nominee to what many consider the country’s most conservative appeals court, and if confirmed, he will be the third Texan to join the court under the administration. No other federal appeals court has had as many nominees, and no other state has had more appeals court nominees. On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Kyle Duncan — who worked in the Texas Solicitor General’s Office — to a Louisiana seat on the 5th Circuit.