Another of Joe Biden’s judicial nominees is having difficulty during Senate confirmation hearings. Nusrat Choudhury has been tapped by Biden for a position on the U.S. District Court sitting in New York City and is struggling with changes in her narrative about police shootings in America.
Choudhury is alleged to have said during a 2015 panel discussion that American police shoot unarmed black people every day. In an initial confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in April, she stood by the statement. Now this month, she testified under oath before the same committee that she never made the statement.
In a written statement, she has also said that she never made such a statement and now “strongly disavows” the statement. She went on to say that she regrets now not disavowing the statement during her Senate hearing.
Senate Republicans on the committee are now calling for further confirmation hearings on Choudhury’s nomination. They say that her inconsistent statements present problems for her and for future judicial nominations.
In a letter to committee chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Republicans on the committee said that if judicial nominees are permitted to testify in one way before the committee in hearings and then “reverse themselves” in a letter sent later, the process would see “a new level of deterioration.”
While Republicans have not yet successfully rejected a Biden judicial nominee, the unexplained change in testimony by Choudhury may present their best chance so far. If she is compelled to attend additional hearings, the pressure on her nomination could intensify.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been an ardent supporter of Choudhury’s nomination.
A career attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Choudhury was part of a panel at the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 2015. Although there are no known recordings of the event, a person affiliated with a Princeton alumni group posted tweets as the event occurred. One of those live-tweets indicated that Choudbury made the claim about daily police shootings of unarmed blacks.
When Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) pressed Choudhury in the April hearing about the alleged statement, she did not disavow the false claim or deny she said it. She said three times that she was “engaging in rhetorical advocacy” during the panel.
Research has shown that deadly police shootings of unarmed black people average around 22 per year nationwide.
In support of the demand that Choudhury appear for further testimony before the committee, ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said this is not a “case where she misspoke and her letter clarified what she meant.” He said it is instead a situation where she directly contradicts an earlier statement.