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 has 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.
Given his record, Newsom, a member of the Federalist Society, must demonstrate at his hearing that he can be a fair and apolitical judge rather than a far-right ideologue committed to an agenda of rolling back long-cherished constitutional rights.