POLITICS

Senate Confirms 36-Year-Old To Lifetime Seat On U.S. Circuit Court

Every Democrat opposed Trump nominee Allison Jones Rushing, who is going to be a federal judge for a long, long time.
Get used to seeing Allison Jones Rushing. She's poised to be a federal judge for decades.
Get used to seeing Allison Jones Rushing. She's poised to be a federal judge for decades.

WASHINGTON ― The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Allison Jones Rushing, 36, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, making her the youngest federal judge in the country.

The Senate voted 53-44 to put Rushing into the lifetime court seat. Every Republican present voted for her. Every Democrat present opposed her.

Democrats raised a number of concerns with Rushing, who is a partner at the D.C.-based law firm Williams & Connolly. She worked for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization that has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. She has argued that there were “moral and practical” reasons for banning same-sex marriage. And some lawmakers said she simply lacks the experience or legal ability to be a federal judge.

“She has practiced law for nine years. How many cases has she tried to verdict or judgment? Four. Has she been the lead attorney on any of those cases? No,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on the Senate floor. “That is the most scant, weakest legal resume imaginable for someone who’s seeking a lifetime appointment to the second-highest court of the land.”

Like most of President Donald Trump’s court picks, Rushing is also a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which has been driving Trump’s judicial selection process and funneling anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ nominees to the White House.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who helped usher Rushing through the Senate confirmation process, defended her credentials.

“She is really considered one of the fast-rising stars in the legal profession,” he said. “She is clearly qualified to do this job.”

The Senate is voting on two more circuit court nominees this week, both of whom, like Rushing, are young, ideological and Federalist Society members.

Eric Murphy, 39, is up for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. He has fought to make it easier to disenfranchise voters and argued against marriage equality in the landmark 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case before the Supreme Court.

Chad Readler, 46, is up for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. He filed a brief on behalf of the Trump administration in favor of striking down the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing coverage requirement. He has also defended efforts to weaken voting rights and defended Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Both are expected to be confirmed along party lines, though Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Tuesday that she’ll oppose Readler. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Tuesday that she’s undecided on her vote regarding Readler.

Trump is dramatically reshaping the nation’s federal courts. With Rushing’s confirmation, he has now gotten 32 circuit judges, 53 district judges and two Supreme Court justices confirmed. That’s so many circuit judges ― more than any other president confirmed by this point in his first term ― that 1 in 6 seats on U.S. circuit courts is now filled by a judge nominated by Trump.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly gave Rushing’s age as 37 and Murphy’s as 40.

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