On Wednesday, "Marsha Blackburn" was trending over Twitter, as many on the Left took issue with her remarks about Andre Mathis, who President Joe Biden nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. During Mathis' hearing, Sen. Blackburn (R-TN) brought up the nominee's "rap sheet," as it applied to his failure to appear before three different judges, three separate times, in three different states, which carries with it the criminal charge of contempt of court.
Blackburn's Democratic colleagues and those in the mainstream media instead focused on Mathis' offense of going 5 miles over the speed limit in 2014, but such is hardly the complete picture revealed in his DMV report Townhall obtained. When it comes to his speeding citations, Mathis had been cited for going 48 in a 35 mph hour zone in Tennessee in 2004 and for going 84 in a 70 mph hour zone in Alabama in 2009. He was also cited for speeding in Mississippi. In 2011 he went 15 miles over the speed limit in Illinois.
Here's how Jennifer Bendery, writing for HuffPo, categorized it:
What Blackburn referred to as a rap sheet, a term for a person’s criminal history that stems from the acronym for Record of Arrests and Prosecutions, was actually related to three speeding tickets Mathis got more than 10 years ago, one of which was for going 5 miles over the speed limit. His driver’s license was temporarily suspended when he didn’t pay them on time and did not show up to court for them.
She also tweeted about Blackburn on Wednesday.
GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn goes after one of Biden's Black judicial nominees for having "a rap sheet" of citations, which was actually just three speeding tickets from 10+ years ago.— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) January 12, 2022
One was for going 5 miles over the speed limit. https://t.co/FiFLrZRoJX
As did others, while miscategorizing the concern.
"It was extraordinarily painful to watch as an American and as an African American" - Former NAACP President Cornell William Brooks blasts GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn for her remarks about a Black judicial nominee. pic.twitter.com/61GcyRYZtr— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) January 13, 2022
Sen. Marsha Blackburn is under fire after saying judicial nominee Andre Mathis, a Black lawyer from Memphis, has "a rap sheet with a laundry list of citations." The citations in question were three speeding tickets all from a decade or more ago. https://t.co/71AMKi7xDP— Tennessean (@Tennessean) January 13, 2022
It's not so much about the speeding as it is that each time Mathis drove on a suspended license and failed to appear for trial and pay the fine.
An FBI investigation into Mathis' background found that he committed criminal offenses.
The offenses included his failure to answer and pay original violation in Alabama, when his license was suspended from April 5, 2010 to February 22, 2011. In Alabama, traffic tickets are misdemeanor criminal offenses and failing to appear on a court date is itself a criminal charge.
Another offense was to do with how Mathis' failure to appear at court in Mississippi. His license was suspended from July 26, 2010-February 22, 2011 in the state, where it is a criminal offense to not appear for court date.
And another has to do with Mathis' failure to answer and pay original violation in Tennessee. His license was suspended there from April 10, 2008 to May 15, 2008. In Tennessee, traffic tickets are considered misdemeanor criminal offense.
During the hearing, Blackburn mentioned that "it has been made public [Mathis] has a rap sheet with a laundry list of citations, including multiple failures to appear in court. In Tennessee, we expect our judges to respect the law, not disregard it. If Mr. Mathis thought he was above the law before, imagine how he'll conduct himself if he is confirmed as a federal judge."
Mathis went on to say "I can assure the committee I'm a law abiding citizen."
Blackburn brought up other concerns with Mathis, including his lack of experience in arguing before the Sixth Circuit. The senator also pointed out that in eight of the nine briefs he filed before that court, he had to correct those briefs in order for them to be in line with the court's rules.
Another point that Blackburn took issue with Mathis not reaching out to get in touch with her office or Sen. Bill Hagerty's (R-TN) office, though Mathis claimed he did make himself available.
Before she began questioning Mathis, Blackburn blasted how "the White House is being inaccurate in their representation of their outreach... which did not occur until 4:55 [Tuesday] afternoon."
As Nate Raymond reported for Reuters:
Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee called it "insulting" that the White House did not meaningfully consult her or fellow Senator Bill Hagerty about Mathis and that they did not even receive so-called "blue slips" to express their views on him.
Committee Chair Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, conceded it was a mistake that the Tennessee senators did not receive those blue forms, which home-state senators historically needed to return for a nominee to be considered.
And, as Raymond also reported, Sens. Blackburn and Hagerty "had identified an alternative pick, Camille McMullen, a Democratic appointee to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals who is also Black and is nearly a decade older than the 41-year-old Mathis."
While there was outrage against Blackburn, she did have the support from Paris Dennard, the GOP National Spokesman & Director of Black Media Affairs, and Dr. Darrell Scott, a Black pastor.
The liberal media is playing the race card again in an attempt to smear @MarshaBlackburn because of her opposition to a Black, male, Biden judicial candidate. She can oppose any nominee if she feels someone is better suited & she did, it was Judge Camille McMullen, a Black woman.— PARIS (@PARISDENNARD) January 13, 2022
The Left is trying to smear my friend ?@MarshaBlackburn? to cover up attempts to fill the courts with unqualified puppets that will do their bidding without question! Senator Blackburn nominated a seasoned , qualified, AA woman for the position! https://t.co/gXwiJpy0a6— Dr.Darrell Scott (@PastorDScott) January 13, 2022
Further, a Senate aide also offered to Townhall that this narrative is a distraction from the Democratic agenda of abolishing the filibuster and packing the Court. "Democrats are trying to distract from Chuck Schumer's attempt to pass a bill to silence millions of Americans, fill the court with Biden's judicial nominees, and take away the advice and consent of home-state Senators. The alternative nominee that the Senators put forth was a Democrat woman of color, but the left wing media does not care. Race is just a convenient way for the left to distract from their effort to take control of our courts and radically transform America," the aide said.
Democrats are currently trying to find a way to change the Senate rules, which includes getting rid of the filibuster, in order to pass voting legislation that amounts to a federal takeover of elections.