The Senate voted 51-42 to confirm Judge Justin R. Walker to the nation’s premier federal appeals court – The DC Circuit – on Thursday over bitter Democratic objections and a prominent Republican defection.
While the battle over the promotion was ostensibly about the D.C. federal appeals court, it was also about the Supreme Court.
The D.C. court has become a proving ground for Supreme Court justices, including current Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Judge Walker’s addition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit comes under one year after he first became a judge, when he was confirmed to a lower federal court in October 2019.
The judge’s Kentucky roots played a key role in garnering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s support. Judge Walker was a Louisville law professor before joining the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky last year and his outsider status made him an attractive prospect for Mr. McConnell and President Trump, who nominated him.
Mr. McConnell, who’s said his motto is to leave no judicial vacancies behind, rejected any suggestion that Congress had any reason to deny Judge Walker’s confirmation.
“When the Senate confirms Judge Walker to this vacancy, we will not just be promoting a wildly admired legal expert and proven judge to a role which he is obviously qualified, we will also be adding to a time-honored tradition of finding men and women from all across the country to help ensure that this enormously consequential bench here in our nation’s capital is refreshed with talent from all parts of America,” Mr. McConnell said. “My fellow Kentuckians and I are sorry to part with this son of the bluegrass, but mostly we are proud because Judge Walker will be putting his legal brilliance and his exceptional judicial temperament to work, not just for his home state, but for our entire nation.”