On January 23, 2017, President Trump nominated John Campbell (“Cam”) Barker to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Barker is nominated to the seat vacated by Judge Leonard Davis, who retired in May 2015.
Since 2015, Barker has served as the Deputy Solicitor General for Texas. In that role, Barker has fought immigrant rights and efforts to protect the environment; defended Texas’s discriminatory voter ID laws and unconstitutional restrictions on women’s access to an abortion; and defended businesses that discriminate against LGBTQ Americans. In addition, both as a private attorney and in government, Barker challenged the Affordable Care Act.
Barker also worked on a highly controversial case in which Texas sought to retry a man with an intellectual disability who, after his murder conviction was overturned on appeal, spent 32 years in prison. And, Barker defended the state’s efforts to execute an African-American man based, in part, on a psychologist’s testimony that the defendant’s race made him statistically more likely to commit a violent crime.
Given that much of Barker’s work has been done in an official capacity in state government, some context is relevant here. In the past, Senate Republicans have made it clear that they believe individual judicial nominees are responsible for the entirety of their records, regardless of whether their activities were carried out as government officials, as attorneys representing clients, in business, or in their personal capacity as private citizens. For example, in 2013, now-Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley opposed Caitlin Halligan’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit based on a brief she signed at the New York Solicitor’s Office, as follows: “Some of my colleagues have argued that we should not consider this aspect of [Caitlin] Halligan’s record, because at the time she was working as the Solicitor General of New York. But, no one forced Ms. Halligan to approve and sign this brief.” Applying that standard to Barker’s record leads to serious concerns about his commitment to upholding critical rights and legal protections.
Alliance for Justice opposes Barker’s confirmation. Click here to read our letter of opposition.