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Senators Urge McConnell Not To Hold Floor Vote on ‘Partisan’ Fifth Circuit Nominee

June 24, 2020 by Reece Nations
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., addresses the Kentucky chapters conference of The Federalist Society at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

WASHINGTON – A group of influential Democratic Senators are urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to deny a confirmation vote of President Donald Trump’s nominee for a vacant United States appeals court seat. The legislators appealed to McConnell in a letter after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Cory Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

In their letter, Sens. Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein and Amy Klobuchar argue that Wilson is “an ardent supporter of restrictive voting measures, including voter ID laws, that disproportionately harm minority voters” and “has shown a pattern of dismissing legitimate concerns from voting rights groups.”

Wilson’s nomination to fill the only current federal appeals court vacancy advanced through committee on a 12-10 vote along party-lines. As Wilson’s nomination advances to the full Senate for a vote, Democrats insist the judge’s “partisan record” is disqualifying.

“In addition to supporting laws that disenfranchise voters, Judge Wilson has made numerous unsubstantiated claims regarding voter fraud, and he has been a vocal critic of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation this body has ever considered,” the Senators’ letter reads. “The spread of disinformation regarding the integrity of our election system is a serious and dangerous practice that threatens our democracy.”

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary on May 18 rated Wilson “well qualified” for the nomination. This is the highest rating the ABA’s committee can bestow.

Sen. Kamala Harris joined the chorus of fellow Democratic lawmakers in criticizing Wilson’s track record. The California Democrat, one of only three Senators of African American descent, said Wilson’s sentiments are in opposition to those protesting against racial injustice across the country.

“His record is in fact an antithesis to what the American people are marching for and demanding right now,” Harris said, referencing widespread demonstrations that followed the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

In a 2011 op-ed published in the Madison County Journal, Wilson dismissed concerns from the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP that a voter ID law would stifle minority voters. Later, Wilson authored another op-ed for the MCJ that criticized the efforts of Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., in investigating voter suppression on the Judiciary Committee as “show hearings.”

Further, in 2013, Wilson wrote then-Attorney General Eric Holder “whined” that voter ID laws were an unethical effort by Republicans to suppress poor and minority voting. Wilson has also priorly expressed hostility for the Affordable Care Act, a shared sentiment between he and President Trump.

Wilson formerly served in the Mississippi State House of Representatives from 2016 until 2019. Despite his prior commentary, Wilson insisted during his confirmation hearing last month that he was an impartial judge who would follow the precedent of a Supreme Court ruling that upheld the ACA.

Other lawmakers were quick to throw their support behind Wilson. Sen. Lindsey Graham. R-S.C., Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee rebuffed concerns surrounding Wilson’s confirmation.

“Who do you think we’re going to pick?” Graham said in committee during Wilson’s hearing. “We’re going to pick people that think like us that will be good judges. And when you get in charge, if you ever do, you’re going to pick people from your world.”

Senate Democrats found an ally across the aisle in Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who voted against the advancement of Wilson’s nomination Monday. Collins, the only Republican to vote against the measure, is facing an uphill battle for reelection in November.

“I oppose Judge Cory Wilson’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit,” Collins said in a statement. “While Judge Wilson is entitled to his personal views, his comments about the legality of the Affordable Care Act, including calling the law ‘perverse’ and ‘illegitimate,’ raise doubts about his ability to rule impartially on matters where he holds very strong personal views.” 

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