Partisanship Should Not Block Qualified Judicial Nominees

Press Release

Press Contact

Carolyn Bobb

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 12, 2022 – Today the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first judicial nominations hearing of 2022, considering the nomination of Andre Mathis to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit as well as three district court nominees. 

Mathis is the first of President Biden’s nominees for a state with two Republican senators. Both Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty have expressed their opposition to his nomination, and Hagerty has threatened to use his blue slip to prevent the nomination from proceeding. However, during the Trump administration, Republican senators advanced 17 nominees over the objections of their home state senators, choosing not to respect the blue slip process for circuit court nominees. Some Democratic senators did not have the opportunity to meet Trump’s nominees to their state, while Mathis met with Blackburn and Hagerty’s staffs five months before the White House announced his nomination. 

As they have for most of Biden’s nominees, Republican senators attempted to downplay Mr. Mathis’s exceptional qualifications. He has experience with both civil and criminal federal law but has primarily represented the government and businesses in civil litigation. His pro bono work has included working with the Tennessee Innocence Project to help overturn wrongful convictions. He mentors law students at the University of Memphis and serves as a board member for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Memphis, which he participated in as a youth. 

Today’s hearing also featured three incredibly qualified district court nominees: Hector Gonzalez (Eastern District of New York), Fred Slaughter (Central District of California), and Jessica Clarke (Southern District of New York). 

Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement: 

“Today’s hearing featured Andre Mathis, a Black man with incredible legal experience who is committed to serving his community and who would serve the Sixth Circuit capably. That Mr. Mathis is facing any opposition speaks to the way partisanship has come to entirely define how Senate Republicans engage with the courts. The senators’ clear objection is that President Biden nominated him. We know they would block every single one of his nominees if they could, as some have promised to do if they take back control of the Senate. It is essential that we fill all of the vacancies on our courts with experienced jurists like Andre Mathis so they can serve the American people and uphold the rule of law.”