Senate expected to confirm Trump’s 200th judicial pick today — impacting reproductive and civil rights for generations
WASHINGTON — Today, a Senate Republican majority will vote to confirm the 200th lifetime judicial appointment of the Trump Administration, a disturbing reminder of how they have ignored rules and precedent to impact people's reproductive and civil rights for generations. Like many of these judges, the 200th nominee, Cory Wilson, who supports the “complete and immediate reversal” of Roe v. Wade, holds a record that demonstrates hostility toward reproductive health care, voting rights, and racial justice.
Today’s vote comes in the face of ongoing protests of police violence, and the need for the Senate to take up desperately needed COVID-19 relief legislation — both are public health crises disproportionately killing Black people. Given the legacy of racism and discrimination in this country, far too often the judicial system has not only failed to protect Black people’s health and rights, it has actively worked to protect white supremacy in America and make rights available only to those with privilege and power.
Over the weekend, Trump doubled down on his commitment to remaking the judicial system, pledging to appoint nearly 300 judges by the end of his first term. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsay Graham and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have encouraged senior judges to retire in order to continue filling the court with young appointees who can make decisions on reproductive rights and civil rights for the next 40 years. The Trump Administration has selected no Black judges to serve on the federal appeals court — a first since the Nixon Administration.
In response, Planned Parenthood Action Fund launched the beginning of a six-figure digital ad campaign to hold Senators accountable for prioritizing the confirmation of unfit judges for lifetime appointments over badly needed COVID-19 relief. The ads target U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Martha McSally (R-AZ).
This high number of confirmations is a part of the coordinated strategy by state and federal politicians to take over the judiciary branch in order to overturn Roe v. Wade and other important laws that protect our rights. In 2019 alone, we saw over 300 bills harmful to reproductive health and rights proposed in states. For communities of color, the promise of reproductive freedom has never been realized. Without legal protection to fall back on, the dream of expanding and ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health care for all will be impossible to achieve. This is especially true for racial justice issues impacting Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. The courts are often the only place legislation or policies like these can be stopped, as we are experiencing now while we wait for the June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, the first case on abortion to be decided by SCOTUS with Justice Kavanaugh on the court.
Statement from Anisha Singh, director, judiciary and democracy affairs, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“Over 122,000 Americans are dead from COVID-19, over 44 million Americans have applied for unemployment pay, and millions of protestors have taken to the streets in solidarity with the movement for Black lives. This is an unprecedented time for our nation. Yet instead of addressing the pandemic, record unemployment, or a national outcry over systemic racism, the Trump administration and Senate Republican leadership have made packing our courts with judges who oppose health care access their top priority. Make no mistake: the 200 judges the Senate Republican majority have confirmed onto the bench for lifetime appointments will be able to reshape our laws for generations. Many of these judges have records that are demonstrably hostile toward reproductive health care, voting rights, and civil rights. Fittingly, today’s nominee, Cory Wilson, is no different.
For too long, the judicial system has not only failed to protect Black people’s health and rights, it’s played a leading role in protecting white supremacy. We cannot confront the systemic racism plaguing this country if we continue to appoint judges who will uphold an unjust system. In these unprecedented times for our country, the American people deserve leadership that puts their health, jobs and lives ahead of the confirmation of unfit judges.”
To put this pace into perspective, 23% of judges across the Supreme Court, appeals courts, and district courts have been appointed by this administration, including 30% of circuit judges — significantly more circuit judges appointed by this administration than any administration in the last four decades. This administration’s appointments have already tipped the balance of three courts of appeals — the 2nd, 3rd and 11th Circuits. The Trump administration’s focus on installing young and ideologically rigid judges could have severe repercussions for abortion rights, civil rights, and equality.
Here are just a few of the 200 judges Senate Republican leadership has helped put on the bench:
Cory Wilson, expected to be confirmed today to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi: Wilson is one of several recent nominees who carry a strong anti-reproductive health record. As a state legislator, Wilson voted over and over again to take away people’s health and rights, including by supporting 6- and 15-week abortion bans in Mississippi when he was a state legislator. In addition, Wilson supports the “complete and immediate” reversal of Roe v. Wade and has said he does not believe abortion should be legal.
Wendy Vitter, confirmed judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana: Vitter moderated a panel promulgating misinformation about abortion, such as the baseless claim that women who take contraceptive pills are more likely to die violent deaths. Vitter also encouraged panelists to discuss scientifically baseless theories and wholly false claims about the safety of abortion.
Sarah Pitlyk, confirmed judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri: Pitlyk spent her career trying to roll back our sexual and reproductive health and rights. Pitlyk has litigated cases directly opposing abortion rights. She defended Iowa’s unconstitutional 6-week abortion ban and fought against a St. Louis ordinance that barred discrimination based on “reproductive health decisions,” such as having an abortion or using birth control.
Steven Menashi, confirmed judge for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals: Menashi believes that certain ethnicities make better citizens. This view is especially troubling at a time when white supremacy is fueling rising acts of racial violence. He has supported policies that are overwhelmingly racist, sexist, homophobic, and Islamophobic. He has spent his career attacking sexual and reproductive health care.
Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed judge for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals: Barrett has asserted that judges should not follow the law or the Constitution if it conflicts with their personal religious beliefs. Barrett has been overwhelmingly critical of the Roe v. Wade decision due to “her own conviction that life begins at conception.” She also stated that she believes that Roe “created through judicial fiat a framework of abortion on demand” that “ignited a national controversy.”
Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.