We write to offer our unqualified and personal support of Ryan Bounds as a nominee to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We all have a long personal history with Ryan, as we grew up together in the same rural northeastern Oregon town of Hermiston.
As members of Oregon’s legal, medical, corporate, and higher education communities and leaders and volunteers for a variety of progressive causes and organizations — including the Oregon Democratic Party, the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign, SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism), Oregon Women Lawyers, and Basic Rights Oregon — we are uniquely situated to critically assess Ryan’s growth and temperament over more than three decades.
We have no doubts about Ryan’s capacity to serve as a judge by any criterion — be it personal, intellectual, professional, or temperamental. We urge your fair and thorough consideration of his nomination.
A cursory review of Ryan’s record reveals his eminent qualification for this position, and we need not persuade you in that regard. Ryan possesses the academic experience (Stanford and Yale), professional path (U.S. Department of Justice, White House, judicial clerkship), and community engagement (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Portland Bar, Court-Appointed Special Advocate for African-American foster children, environmental crimes prosecutor).
Because we have known Ryan since our days in middle school, we think it far more valuable to your deliberations to express unequivocally our knowledge of Ryan’s empathy, capacity for self-reflection, and propensity to put himself in the shoes of others. We have never known him even to suggest — by word or deed — any personal animosity for anyone based on his or her race, gender, creed, ethnicity or sexual orientation. But he is happy to argue with anyone without regard to those characteristics. Ryan does not view contentious debate as contrary to our shared humanity; rather, he lives his life celebrating both.
We understand, with the examination of his record, the committee has reviewed a handful of articles Ryan penned as an editor on the staff of a conservative college newspaper, The Stanford Review, nearly a quarter-century ago. We have read the articles.Cautious not to apply the important progressive lens of today to impertinent words of youth, we — women, a gay man, a refugee, and members of Oregon’s communities of color — nonetheless agree the articles deserve an explanation. We know Ryan regrets and is embarrassed by the tone of his writings as a conservative college student.
We would expect any reasonable person to understand how a student’s words designed to garner attention for an alternative college newspaper might not resonate with the person that student will become after 25 years of experiencing the world.
Perhaps more importantly for your inquiry and examination, we can represent without hesitation that Ryan’s path has been one of growth, intellectual curiosity and rigor, love of his family, friends, and community, and respect for the humanity of others.
If Ryan is incapable, in your eyes, of serving his country as a judge, we must share our worry as to who might be qualified and suited for the judiciary in the view of the committee and Senate.
Ryan James Hagemann is vice president and general counsel at Western Oregon University. Sally Anderson Hansell works for Anderson Hansell PC. Dr. Aloysius Fobi works in the emergency department at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital. Andrea Streedain is director of operations at Starbucks Coffee Company. Nhan Nguyen is chief financial officer at American Medical Concepts, Inc.