On May 8, 2017, President Trump nominated Kevin Newsom to the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Newsom’s nomination was only possible because Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby refused to return their blue slips for Abdul Kallon, currently a federal district court judge in Alabama, whom President Obama nominated in February 2016. Judge Kallon would have been the first African American to sit on the Court of Appeals from Alabama, yet did not even receive a hearing because the Judiciary Committee followed custom and did not act without the blue slips.
Newsom served as Solicitor General of Alabama under now-federal judge (and extremely controversial nominee) William Pryor. As Solicitor General, Newsom had a record of defending questionable death penalty practices in Alabama and advancing arguments which would curtail civil rights, including efforts to limit critical protections under Title IX. As an attorney, he has fought efforts by everyday Americans trying to remedy wrongs committed against them. He also has written critically of substantive due process, an essential constitutional doctrine for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, for example.
Since his confirmation to the Eleventh Circuit, Newsom has reversed a lower court order that had required a series of safety measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 at a Florida detention center. He also joined other Trump nominees to hold that despite the passage of a state referendum restoring the right to vote to disenfranchised former felons, the state legislature could prevent otherwise eligible Floridians from voting if they did not pay all courts fines and fees (even if the state is unable to even tell the Floridian how much they owe) – a “pay to vote” system. As Judge Adalberto Jordan explained in dissent, this decision denies the right to vote to individuals who have “paid their debt to society to the extent of their capacity” and disregards the will of the super-majority of Florida’s voters who elected to automatically restore the franchise to formerly incarcerated individuals. As a result of the decisions, tens of thousands of Floridians will not be able to exercise their right to vote.
The Alliance for Justice strongly opposes the consideration of Kevin Newsom for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.