At 36 years old, Allison Jones Rushing became one of the youngest individuals to serve as an appeals court judge this week, meaning she could spend decades there. The Trump nominee was confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, VA by a vote of 53-44.
It's quite a feat - but not one Democrats are celebrating. Several top lawmakers and Trump critics are wondering whether or not Rushing has enough experience to serve on such an important court. Rushing clerked for both then-Judge Neil Gorsuch on the Tenth Circuit from 2007-2008 and Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas from 2010-2011. She became a partner at the law firm Williams & Connolly in 2017.
Republicans just advanced the judicial nomination of 36 year-old Allison Jones Rushing for the 4th Circuit (NC). She has practiced law for just 9 years, only tried 4 cases to verdict or judgment in her career (none as lead counsel), and isn’t even a member of the NC bar.— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) March 4, 2019
However, as more than one media outlet noted, no Democratic senators showed up to question the nominee at her confirmation hearing in October, in part because the Senate had already gone out of session.
That doesn't mean she didn't get any questions about her youth and supposed inexperience. Republicans like Sen. John Kennedy (D-LA) voiced his concerns about it.
“I’m not trying to be rude," he told her. "I can see your resume. You’re a rockstar. But I think to be a really good federal judge you’ve gotta have some life experience. And tell me—Williams & Connolly is a great law firm, a lot of great lawyers there. Tell me why you’re more qualified to be on the Fourth Circuit than some of the Williams & Connolly [lawyers] that have been there for 20 years, 25, 30 years in the trenches?”
Rushing reminded the senators that she has heard a variety of cases the U.S. Supreme Court and appeals courts. She can also highlight the fact that the American Bar Association deemed her qualified for the position.
Other critics, however, can't get past Rushing's history with the group Alliance Defending Freedom because it was placed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate group list for its alleged anti-LGBT agenda. We've discussed at length how that couldn't be more misleading.
Rushing succeeds another Allyson, Allyson Duncan, who was the Fourth Circuit’s first African-American female judge. In his first two years as president, Trump has seen an historic number of his appeals court nominees confirmed.
Editor's Note: This piece has been updated with additional information.