We have long covered the substantial and generational shift in the federal judiciary since Trump took office, particularly at the Court of Appeals level.

Filling all Court of Appeals vacancies is a top priority, and while the Wuhan coronavirus crisis has stopped much of the economy, it has not stopped the normal functioning of the nomination process, or the activism of Democrats and liberal groups in opposing nominations.

This past week, Trump unveiled to new nominees, Cory Wilson for the 5th Circuit, and Justin Walker for the D.C. Circuit.

Carrie Severino has the background on Wilson:

Judge Cory Wilson is President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Wilson is currently a judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Before today’s announcement, Wilson was a pending nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

49 years old, Wilson is a native of Pascagoula, Mississippi. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Mississippi in 1992. At Ole Miss, Wilson received the Taylor Medal in Economics, awarded to the student achieving the highest GPA. Following his graduation from Ole Miss, Wilson attended Yale Law School, where he was an editor for the Yale Law Journal, an Olin Fellow in Economics, and a member of the Yale Law School chapter of the Federalist Society….

On August 28, 2019, President Trump nominated Wilson to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. At his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this year, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) criticized Wilson for his membership in the Federalist Society.

More controversial, and significant, is the nomination of Walker to the D.C. Circuit, widely considered the most important appeals court because it hears so many of the disputes arising in D.C. Again, Severino has Wilson’s background:

Judge Justin Walker is President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Walker is currently a federal district judge in the Western District of Kentucky. President Trump also nominated Walker to his current post, and he was confirmed by the Senate in October 2019….

Growing up, Walker attended Catholic school for 13 years, graduating from Louisville St. Xavier High School. He went on to attend Duke University, where he majored in political science and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, graduating summa cum laude. Walker similarly excelled at Harvard Law School, where he earned magna cum laude honors and served as the notes editor of the Harvard Law Review. Walker was also a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Law & Public Policy, a leading journal for conservative and libertarian scholarship. He also served on the executive board of the Harvard chapter of The Federalist Society.

After law school, Walker clerked for Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit (2010-2011) and Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court (2011-2012)….

Walker was a staunch supporter of Brett Kavanaugh during his nomination to the Supreme Court. Walker wrote in National Review that Kavanaugh was a “a steadfast and fearless supporter of religious liberty.” Likewise, in The Federalist, Walker described Kavanaugh as having “the strongest, most consistent, most fearless record of constitutional conservatism of any federal court of appeals judge in the country.”

Got that? Walker clerked for Kavanaugh when Kavanaugh was on the D.C. Circuit, supported Kavanaugh publicly during Kavanaugh’s own confirmation fight, and is referred to as Mitch McConnell’s protégé..

That means leftie activist groups are preparing for war on Walker, as CNBC reports:

Conservative dark money groups are preparing for one of their biggest battles of the year over President Donald Trump’s new pick to fill the a seat on a court that once included Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh….

Walker was confirmed in 2019 to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, after the American Bar Association deemed him “not qualified” for the position.

That rating, on top of the fact that most Democrats have opposed many of the president’s nominations, has conservative outside groups, such as the Judicial Crisis Network and the Article III Project, preparing for an all-out war in defense of Walker, according to people with direct knowledge of matter.

“The D.C. Circuit is considered the second highest court in the land, and barring a Supreme Court vacancy, this will be the biggest judicial fight this year,” Mike Davis, the founder of Article III, told CNBC in an interview on Friday.

Though it’s unclear how some of the liberal organizations are planning to take on the Walker nomination, Demand Justice, a group who vehemently opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination has already gone on offense.

“The nomination of a Mitch McConnell crony, who has been rated unqualified by his peers, to the second highest court in the country is beyond suspicious,” Demand Justice Chief Counsel Christopher Kang said Friday. “We need to know if McConnell contacted Griffith directly, as reports suggest he may have, and if so, what he offered in exchange for his retirement.”

How this will play out procedurally remains to be seen, since Judiciary Committee hearings normally would be held in person, and that’s unlikely to happen in the next 30-plus days.

 

 
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