The HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery reported yesterday on the latest conservative judicial nominee to raise eyebrows on Capitol Hill.
Senate Republicans voted Thursday to advance another of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, Justin Walker, who earned a rare and embarrassing “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association.
Every Republican on the Judiciary Committee voted to advance Walker, the president’s pick for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote. Every Democrat voted no.
Walker is a 37-year-old associate law professor at the University of Louisville. The Harvard Law School grad has worked as speechwriter for Donald Rumsfeld, in addition to having clerked for former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and current Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
That said, Walker has never tried a case. He’s never even been a co-counsel in a case. It very likely contributed to his “not qualified” rating from the ABA.
So how is it Walker was nominated to a lifetime position on the federal bench? New York magazine’s Matt Stieb noted:
Walker has also been criticized for his defense of Brett Kavanaugh, conducting over 70 interviews in which he challenged the account of Christine Blasey Ford. Civil rights attorney and Obama administration alum Leslie Proll said that Walker got the nomination because “he went to bat for Kavanaugh.”
Stieb added that yesterday’s committee vote on Walker serves as “a reminder of why Establishment Republicans are willing to sit through dueling scandals in Turkey and Ukraine: to remake the federal judiciary in their own likeness for decades to come.”
Quite right. Last Friday, after five court defeats in one afternoon, Donald Trump was asked about the setbacks. “I’ve had a great track record,” the president replied. “And right now, within a couple of weeks, we will have 160 judges. And within a couple of months, we’ll have 182 federal judges. And we are breaking records like nobody has ever seen in that regard, as you know.”
As we discussed at the time, as Trump sees it, his recent court defeats are merely temporary. Soon, even more of his judges will be on the bench, at which point the courts will rule in his favor and give him what he wants.
At a certain level, there may be some truth underpinning the president’s expectations: Trump and Senate Republicans have stacked the courts with young, far-right ideologues, chosen by far-right entities, who may very well serve as an extension of the GOP machine.
But as a rule, presidents at least try to keep up appearances and say their judicial nominees will be fair arbiters, not predictable partisans. Trump sees no need to maintain the pretense: he expects his judges to deliver for him.
The Republican has now appointed 154 judges to the federal bench, a number that will grow considerably over the next year, since it’s effectively the only thing the Republican-led Senate works on anymore.