On Nov. 17, 2017, President Trump added five names to the list of potential Supreme Court nominations his administration might make. One of those names would become universally known the following summer: Brett Kavanaugh, the beer-loving jurist who managed to gain confirmation to the high court despite allegations of sexual misconduct and broader concerns about his honesty and temperament.
Patrick R. Wyrick, another of the five newcomers to the Supreme Court list, remains virtually unknown. Nominated for the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Wyrick could soon join the dozens of activist judges remaking the federal government, and American society, according to the dictates of the conservative movement. That movement has seen Trump’s remaking of the federal judiciary as perhaps his signature achievement. (Trump’s nominations have hewn closely to recommendations from the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society.) During the 115th Congress, which marked the first two years of his presidency, Trump successfully appointed 85 judges to the federal bench, including two to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wyrick turned 38 in March. He would be the second-youngest Trump judge, after 37-year-old Allison Jones Rushing, who was confirmed in March. He has been endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Trump ally Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and faces a procedural vote on Tuesday ahead of a confirmation vote by the full Senate, which will presumably come shortly thereafter.
Yet as Wyrick’s confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate nears, critics say he should be disqualified because he has failed to disclose that while suing the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act as Oklahoma’s solicitor general, he was also involved in his wife’s health care company. New information released by Earthjustice, the environmental activist group that has been roundly critical of the Trump administration, suggests that during his confirmation proceedings in 2018, Wyrick attempted to hide the extent of his relationship to Midtown Physical Therapy Central, the company run by his wife, Jamie, an orthopedic rehabilitation specialist.
The allegations come in an eight-page letter Earthjustice has sent to members of the U.S. Senate. It is an updated version of the letter Earthjustice sent to members of the Judiciary Committee last summer. (Wyrick was nominated before the 115th Congress, but the session ended before he could be confirmed by the full Senate.) The letter also reprises long-standing allegations that Wyrick — a close associate of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt — improperly collaborated with the oil and gas industry in blocking the Obama administration’s environmental regulations.
The letter expresses “deep substantive and ethical concerns with Mr. Wyrick’s fitness to serve as a federal judge” and concludes by calling Wyrick a “barnstorming, crusading ideologue” with a “deep personal hostility” to government.