On behalf of Alliance for Justice (AFJ), a national association representing 130 groups committed to equal justice and civil rights, we write to oppose the confirmation of Justin Walker to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.
Justin Walker’s lack of experience with many of the basics of a trial court judge is remarkable. Even the American Bar Association noted that Walker is not qualified to be a federal judge. Walker has never “served as sole or chief counsel in any case tried to verdict or judgment” and has served as an “associate counsel at a federal criminal jury trial” just once. He has never presented an argument to a federal jury or tried a bench trial. Only once has Walker taken an expert deposition; and never in a federal case. He has never submitted a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment in federal court. In fact, Justin Walker was not even admitted to practice in the Western District of Kentucky until this year.
It is clear that Walker was not nominated for his legal experience or trial skills, nor was he nominated for his ability to be a fair and unbiased jurist. Walker made his views clear on what he believes qualifies a person to be a federal judge in one of his 119 media appearances (118 more than the number of depositions he has taken) on behalf of Brett Kavanaugh. Walker stated that Kavanaugh should be confirmed because he was a “warrior” for “conservative legal principles,” “who will not go wobbly.” Walker, in other words, makes clear his view that a good judge is not someone who will fairly, dispassionately, and without bias apply facts to law, but someone who will be a “warrior” for conservatism.
His record demonstrates he is such a “warrior.” Walker has been vehement in his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and believes that the courts should do what Republicans in Congress could not: take away access to quality health care from millions, including people with preexisting conditions. He supports reinvigorating doctrines last used over 80 years ago in order to roll back protections for workers, consumers, and clean air and water. Walker has fought workers’ rights and praised a dissent that argued it was unconstitutional to ban military-style assault weapons.
Walker, a critic of the Mueller investigation, wrote an article arguing against the independence of the FBI after President Trump fired the FBI Director expressly to undermine the Russian investigation. He said the FBI Director should “not think of himself as the nation’s protector, instead he must think of himself as an agent of the President.”
His views on public education are particularly noxious. He bemoaned the use of tax revenue to maintain “a minimum level of funding to offer an adequate education for all students.” He criticized the right to a quality public education found in many state constitutions. Remarkably, Walker equates “the African American minority in segregated schools” in the 1950s with “the wealthy minority in affluent schools” in the 1990s, claiming that “the latter is…a fairly popular class to take political aim at.” Seemingly without irony, Walker uses the language of minority rights to complain that the right to education contained in state constitutions, and increased spending on public education, would infringe upon the liberty of “the minority of individuals who pay the majority of income taxes.”
Given AFJ’s strong concerns regarding Justin Walker’s ability to be a fair and impartial judge and his extreme lack of qualification for such a critical role as a trial judge, as detailed in our report on his nomination issued prior to his hearing, which can be found here, we urge the Senate to reject Justin Walker’s nomination.