Three Reasons Why You Should Socially and Judicially Distance from D.C. Circuit Court Nominee Justin Walker
A couple weeks ago, we had an awful day for gender justice. The Trump administration was arguing at the Supreme Court to take away birth control coverage from millions of workers and students, the Department of Education, led by Betsy Devos, issued a final rule that weakens protections against sexual harassment in school, and Mitch McConnell forced the Senate Judiciary Committee to move the judicial nomination of his mentee, Justin Walker. It’s appalling that, during an unprecedented national crisis, the Senate Majority Leader diverted Senate time to confirming judges instead of providing relief to communities that are struggling so much in this pandemic, particularly low-income women of color and their families.
Here are three things you should know about Justin Walker, the nominee McConnell is so eager to press forward:
1. Walker is nominated for a seat that’s not even open yet:
Walker’s nomination is anything but urgent. The seat he is nominated for isn’t even open and won’t be until September. So, you may wonder why McConnell is diverting limited Senate time to push for Walker to fill a not-yet-open D.C. Circuit seat. Why would McConnell promote someone who was ranked unqualified for the district court because he did not have enough trial or litigation experience to the second highest court after being on the job for only 6 months? Well, it turns out that McConnell has known Walker—who is now 37 years old—since he was a teenager. McConnell has used his power as Senate Majority Leader to get his mentee on the second most powerful court in our country. It’s all part of McConnell’s conservative takeover of the courts. Indeed, a federal judge called for an investigation into whether this vacancy only exists because McConnell pressured a sitting federal judge to retire to make room for Walker.
2. Walker is Justice Kavanaugh’s protégé and espouses his conservative agenda:
Walker is a former clerk for Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was on the D.C. Circuit. During the fight over Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Walker made 162 media appearances supporting Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Walker is quoted as describing Kavanaugh as “a lonely voice defending conservative legal principles without exception,” and said that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would spark “a conservative revolution as big as the Reagan Revolution.” As quoted at the time of Kavanaugh’s nomination, to Walker, this “conservative revolution” means that:
Issues like affirmative action, school prayer, gun rights, and abortion will see drastic changes. I predict an end to affirmative action, an end to successful litigation about religious displays and prayers, an end to bans on semi-automatic rifles, and an end to almost all judicial [decisions allowing abortion] [sic]. This change will give Donald Trump the most conservative judicial legacy of any Republican in history, by far.
Walker has also praised Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions that advance a conservative agenda, including Kavanaugh’s dissent when he was a circuit court judge siding with employers that wanted to deny their employees birth control coverage. Walker called the decision “pure perfection” and Kavanaugh’s record of ruling on behalf of religious interests “unparalleled.”
Walker also weighed in on Dr. Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. Before even listening to her testimony, he said she was “mistaken.”
3. Walker has consistently opposed the Affordable Care Act:
In a 2018 article defending Kavanaugh, Walker described the 2012 Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as an “indefensible decision” and “catastrophic.” Walker also praised Kavanaugh’s dissent opinion while on the circuit court as a “thorough and principled takedown” of the ACA, and for providing a “roadmap” for the Supreme Court Justices to hold the ACA unconstitutional. Just two months ago, Walker was still making disparaging comments about the Supreme Court’s ACA decision. The Senate shouldn’t confirm someone who has continuously and publicly expressed his disdain for the ACA, a law that has provided health coverage to millions. This is true now more than ever, given that overturning the ACA could leave millions without health coverage during a global pandemic.
It is particularly concerning that Mitch McConnell is moving Walker’s nomination during the pandemic. McConnell is putting the lives of his colleagues and the American people at risk to get his nominee into a lifetime position on the second-highest court in the country.
That’s why we, our civil rights partners, and Senate Democrats have urged Senate leadership to focus on addressing the pandemic that is devastating our country instead of considering Walker’s nomination.
We urge you to join us.
No Walker. No Judges. Period.