The Senate confirmed Judge Justin Walker to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday after a controversial nomination process. An ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Judge Walker was previously a federal judge in Kentucky after clerking for then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh and former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Informally known as the “second-highest” court in the land, the D.C. Circuit is generally accepted as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court.
Democrats vehemently opposed Judge Walker’s nomination given his ties to Leader McConnell and originalist jurisprudence. The GOP majority confirmed Walker by a vote of 51-42, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) voting with Democrats.
Confirmed, 51-42: Executive Calendar #710 Justin Reed Walker to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) June 18, 2020
Justin Walker confirmed to DC Circuit, 51-42— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) June 18, 2020
The Senate just confirmed @POTUS's exceptional choice to sit on the second-most-important federal bench. We Kentuckians are sorry to lose Judge Justin Walker, but we're very proud this brilliant and fair jurist will be serving our nation on the D.C. Circuit. pic.twitter.com/BBv87PZDgI— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) June 18, 2020
Democrats characterized Walker as “unqualified” but the American Bar Association (ABA) gave him the “well-qualified” rating, which is known as the “gold standard” for judicial nominees, even by Sen. Schumer’s own words:
"The ABA's evaluation is 'the gold standard by which judicial candidates are judged,'" the New York Democrat said previously.
Judge Walker’s confirmation embodies President Trump’s and Leader McConnell’s commitment to filling judicial vacancies at an unprecedented pace. Walker is the 199th federal judge to be confirmed by Leader McConnell's majority in the Senate.