On June 24, 2019, President Trump nominated University of Louisville Associate Professor of Law Justin Walker to the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky for the seat previously held by Judge Joseph McKinley Jr. Alliance for Justice strongly opposes Walker’s confirmation.
This nomination exposes the Trump Administration’s far-right agenda in judicial nominations. It would be hard to argue that President Trump nominated Walker because of his legal experience and trial skills (which are minimal) or his ability to be a fair and unbiased jurist. Rather, Walker (just 37 years old and out of law school only a decade) was nominated as a reward for his vocal defense of Brett Kavanaugh, for whom he clerked on the D.C. Circuit, and in recognition of his own far-right ideology.
When right-wing critics questioned Kavanaugh’s conservative bona fides, Walker was trotted out on Fox News and other media outlets. He made clear that Kavanaugh was a “warrior” for “conservative legal principles,” who would “not go wobbly.” Later, after the credible allegations of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her, Walker publicly defended the accused assailant, minimized corroborating evidence of sexual assault, and attacked the integrity of Democratic senators.
In fact, Walker conducted over 70 media interviews defending his former boss. In contrast, by his own admission, Walker has never “served as sole or chief counsel in any case tried to verdict or judgment.” Only once has he been “associate counsel at a federal criminal jury trial.” Only once has he “taken an expert deposition.” Walker was not even admitted to practice in the Western District of Kentucky, the court to which he is being nominated to be a judge, until this year. The Trump Administration is known for valuing conservative media punditry over other credentials for high office: True to form, Walker’s qualifications to be a federal trial judge consist of at least 69 more media appearances defending Kavanaugh than federal jury trials or expert depositions.
Walker – a critic of the Mueller investigation who wrote an article arguing against the independence of the FBI after Trump fired the FBI Director because of “this Russia thing” – is apparently being rewarded for his loyalty and ideological extremism. His outspokenness extends to vehement opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), calling the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Act “indefensible.” He also supports reinvigorating doctrines last used over 80 years ago in order to roll back protections for workers, consumers, and clean air and water. He has fought workers’ rights and praised a dissent arguing it was unconstitutional to ban semi-automatic rifles.