Our response to COVID-19 and structural racism, along with a looming election, define who we are as a nation. The American people are in the streets meeting this unprecedented moment to call for justice. Meanwhile, many of our nation’s leaders are failing to act.
Donald Trump is running from the calls for justice. Instead, he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are fixated on our courts and pushing through and celebrating nominees who they believe will roll back our hard-fought civil rights. By installing nominees who’ve pledged allegiance to “Kavanaugh’s America” and advancing nominees who use air quotes when referring to voter suppression, they are failing to address the structural racism that permeates our justice system.
Last week, despite bipartisan opposition, the Senate voted to confirm McConnell’s long-time friend Justin Walker to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — a seat that does not even become vacant until September. Walker campaigned for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and has promised to “not surrender” the work or the cause of “Kavanaugh’s America.” Further, Walker asserted that the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA was “catastrophic.” Walker’s work and cause is clear — he opposes access to health care and civil rights protections.
And this week, the Senate is set to confirm Trump’s 200th lifetime federal judge, Cory Wilson — and neither the pandemic nor the calls for justice will not stop McConnell from pushing through more judges who he is betting will rubberstamp his agenda.
Trump nominated Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit after a handful of extreme senators forced the withdrawal of Halil ‘Sul’ Ozerden’s nomination for failing to pass their ‘political litmus test’ — despite Ozerden going out of his way to prove his zealous loyalty to far-right conservativism.
Wilson is clearly dedicated to conservative political causes. He called the Affordable Care Act “freedom-infringing,” “perverse,” and “illegitimate.” He also supported discriminatory photo ID laws, the nation’s most restrictive anti-LGBTQ law, and demonstrated close-minded contempt for those who disagree with him.
Wilson — who, like an overwhelming majority of Trump’s nominees, is a young white man — was nominated to the appellate court with the largest percentage of people of color. Indeed, of Trump’s 56 appellate nominations, not even one is African American. Only one is Latino. And only 11 are women.
Wilson is symbolic of the America that Trump and McConnell want to define for us. Senate Democrats understand this and are demanding that McConnell stop this nomination. The civil rights community and the American people also refuse to accept this. Our nation needs leaders who take their job seriously, and that means enacting meaningful police reform, voting on the HEROES Act, and ensuring we have judges who reflect and represent the diversity of our country and can be trusted to administer equal justice under law.
We must continue to make it clear to them that a justice system that forces a knee on our rights and protections is nothing to congratulate yourself about.