federal courts supreme court

200 Trump Judges Is Nothing To Celebrate

Call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them you won’t forget their votes on judges this November.

On Wednesday, June 24th, the Republican Senate confirmed the 200th judge nominated by Donald Trump – Cory Wilson. This caused backslapping, celebratory press releases, and jubilation at the White House, within the Republican Caucus, and in the halls of the Federalist Society.

While the celebrations might have taken their minds off the empty bleachers in Tulsa, Republicans have little to rejoice about. 120,000 Americans have died due to COVID-19 and over 2.2 million have contracted the virus, countless thousands as a result failure of leadership by President Trump. Nearly 40 million people are unemployed. The Democratic House passed the HEROES Act to provide relief to states and local governments, critical economic assistance to families, support for frontline doctors and nurses, and nationwide testing. Yet Senate Republicans did not even allow debate on the bill on the Senate floor, further cementing their role in fiddling while Rome burned.

At the same time, our nation witnessed the tragic murder of George Floyd, only the latest senseless murder of a Black American by police. Millions of people have protested and demanded our leaders address police brutality and racial injustice. Yet, the Republican Senate has suggested only watered-down legislation and minimal reforms, made clear ending qualified immunity is a nonstarter, and failed to work with Democrats to address racial inequality.

On top of our health, economic, and racial crises, last week we witnessed President Trump’s former top national security advisor confirming President Trump’s failed and contemptible foreign policy. John Bolton highlighted that Trump would “give personal favors to dictators he liked,” asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help with his re-election, and wanted Attorney General Barr to prosecute reporters. Moreover, the country was yet again reminded of the attorney general’s contempt for the rule of law when he manufactured the firing of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the prosecutor leading investigations into associates of the president. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony further confirming Barr’s contempt for the rule of law.

It is understandable that in the face of an absence of leadership and integrity, Senate Republicans would want to latch on to anything that would raise their spirits. But, celebrating the confirmation of Cory Wilson to a lifetime judgeship is no cause for euphoria. In the middle of a pandemic, Republicans confirmed a person who has vigorously opposed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (calling it “perverse” and “illegitimate”), and who has made clear that, if given the opportunity as a judge, he would invalidate the ACA and take away health care from millions, including over 130 million Americans with preexisting conditions. As our country cries out for racial justice, Wilson has called civil rights organizations “rent-a-mobs.” As we witness assaults on voting rights in states like Wisconsin and Georgia, Wilson denounced claims of voter suppression as “poppycock” and championed measures that would make it harder for African Americans to vote.

The fact is that while the President and Senate Republicans celebrate “200 judges,” their constituents are outraged at who these judges are and the agenda they will carry out on the bench. Of course, they can’t hide the records of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Neil Gorsuch’s first opinion on the Court made it harder for victims of wage theft to hold their employers accountable. Just last week, Brett Kavanaugh would have made it permissible for LGBTQ Americans to be fired, not hired, or otherwise discriminated against solely because of who they are. And both would have allowed Donald Trump to deport 700,000 Dreamers.

As Alliance for Justice Action Campaign has demonstrated, however, Republicans are responsible for putting on the court scores of judges that, at the time of their confirmation, had fought to take health insurance away from millions; opposed LGBTQ equality; attacked access to reproductive healthcare; worked to dismantle protections for clean air and water; and favored the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the rights and safety of workers and consumers.

  • Republicans confirmed Justin Walker, an outspoken opponent of the ACA, who called the Supreme Court decision upholding the law “catastrophic” and celebrated that Brett Kavanaugh wrote a “roadmap” for judges to declare the law unconstitutional and take away access to quality health care from millions, including people with preexisting conditions.
  • Republicans confirmed Chad Readler, who as a Justice Department official led the effort for courts to declare the ACA unconstitutional and take away access to quality health care from millions, including millions of people with preexisting conditions.
  • Republicans confirmed Steven Menashi despite a record of racist, sexist and homophobic writings, repeated attacks on the motives and character of those with whom he disagrees, and a career working with Betsy DeVos to undermine access to quality education and with Stephen Miller to implement draconian immigration measures.
  • Republicans confirmed Neomi Rao, who had extremely offensive writings blaming victims of sexual assault for their own attacks. She also wrote disparagingly about LGBTQ rights and race, advocated for using the courts to invalidate progressive legislation, and holds radical views on executive power.
  • Republicans confirmed Lawrence VanDyke, who the ABA rated unqualified because of his temperament and bias, including against LGBTQ Americans. He led efforts to erode environmental protections and gun safety measures, as well as reproductive rights.
  • Republicans confirmed John Bush even though, as an anonymous blogger, he made disparaging remarks about LGBTQ Americans, was dismissive of women’s rights, and spread birther conspiracy theories about Barack Obama.
  • Republicans confirmed Andrew Brasher despite a career fighting to make it harder for African Americans in Alabama to vote.
  • Republicans confirmed Wendy Vitter despite the fact she spread junk science to restrict the rights of women, including urging supporters to distribute materials that claimed the birth control pill “kills” and makes women more likely to be victim of violent assault and murder. Vitter also purchased two homes containing Jim Crow requiring sale “to people of the white race” and refused to say she thought Brown v. Board of Education was rightly decided.
  • Republicans confirmed Matthew Kazmaryk even though he spent his career fighting equality for LGBTQ Americans and women. Even Republican Susan Collins said that Kazmaryk had an “alarming bias against the rights of LGBTQ Americans and disregard for Supreme Court precedents.”
  • Republicans confirmed Patrick Wyrick, a protégé of disgraced EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who cozied up to oil and gas lobbyists and acted as their conduit when he worked for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.
  • Republicans confirmed Howard Nielson, who defended the use of torture as an attorney in George W. Bush’s Justice Department. In private practice, he defended Prop 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and sought to have a gay judge removed from the case. He was also a lead attorney for the NRA.

For more information on these nominees, and others, see our affiliate’s resources at AFJ.org.

In each case and so many other examples, the Republican Senate gave its approval to individuals who have espoused despicable views and who will erode critical constitutional rights and protections for decades.  This is nothing to celebrate!

Trump and Senate Republicans on the 2020 ballot have made it clear they’re doubling down on the courts, hoping to motivate conservative voters. But progressives are fired up like never before. From Kavanaugh to Walker and Wilson, let’s make it clear that we’ll hold them accountable for stacking our courts with judges committed to dismantling our rights.

Call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them you won’t forget their votes on judges this November.

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