McConnell Keeps Churning Out New Judges. McSally is in Full Support.

During a hearing by the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel about prevention and response to sexual assault in the military, Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., recounts her own experience while serving as a colonel in the Air Force, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. McSally, the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, says she was raped in the Air Force by superior officer. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By Emiene Wright, Jessica Swarner

June 26, 2020

Cory Wilson is the 200th judicial nominee Trump has gotten confirmed in under four years. 

As the U.S. grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and an overdue examination of police reform, Senate Republicans are closing in on what matters most to them: leaving no judicial vacancy behind.

Under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, GOP lawmakers are continuing to double down on crafting a judiciary slanted against hard-won civil rights protections. The latest pick, Judge Cory Wilson, was the subject of a Senate vote Wednesday. 

Wilson has a record of hostility toward voting rights, and dismissed concerns that a voter ID law would lead to voter suppression and discrimination as “poppycock.”

After being confirmed 52-48, Wilson became the 200th judicial nominee Trump has gotten confirmed in under four years and the 53rd circuit court judge to be placed on the bench through McConnell’s leadership. 

The Fifth Circuit was the only remaining vacancy among the country’s influential appeals courts. His confirmation leaves zero vacancies in the nation’s appeals courts, where most major rulings are decided. 

Support from McSally

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Arizona) has been a consistent supporter of Trump’s picks, despite concerns about their ideologies. 

In an email newsletter, McSally wrote, “I have been working with my colleagues and President Trump to confirm judges that will interpret the law and Constitution as written, not legislate from the bench.”

Civil rights advocates and lawmakers from Mississippi have vehemently opposed Wilson’s nomination

“We do not need another partisan conservative on the bench,” Mississippi Congressman Bennie G. Thompson said in a joint statement with the NAACP, Urban League and other civil rights organizations. “Wilson will not protect the rights of African Americans and other minorities. He has written, worked, and voted in support of laws that have the necessary effect of suppressing minorities’ right to vote – most notably by supporting voter ID laws.”

In the same statement, LaShawn Warren of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights added: “Historically, the Fifth Circuit has played a critical role in ensuring the implementation of key civil rights laws, and Wilson’s nomination threatens to undermine that history. Cory Wilson’s nomination is an affront to our civil rights legacy.”

RELATED: 1 in 4 Circuit Court Judges Have Been Appointed By Trump. Here’s Why That Matters For Your Rights.

But McSally celebrated Wilson’s confirmation, as well as Trump’s ability to quickly fill the court vacancies, saying it means “swifter justice for Americans.”

“We’re filling the courts with well-qualified judges at a historic rate,” the senator tweeted. “Today, I voted to confirm the 200th federal judge nominated by @POTUS, leaving 0 circuit court vacancies for the 1st time in at least 4 decades.

No Democrat voted in favor of Wilson’s nomination on Monday, but one Republican did cross party lines and vote against him. 

“I oppose Judge Cory Wilson’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) 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.” 

Collins also opposed the nomination of conservative Judge Justin Walker on similar grounds. He was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia—considered the second most powerful court in the nation, one step below the Supreme Court—last week.

McSally voted in favor of Walker’s nomination. 

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