With the U.S. Senate set to be focused exclusively on an impeachment trial for the foreseeable future, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) decided to get ahead of the game and take care of some unfinished business on Thursday.
According to Courthouse News Service (CNS), Graham’s panel voted to advance the nominations of five of President Donald Trump’s judicial appointees last week, clearing the way for their confirmations.
A contentious confirmation battle
One of the nominees cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was Andrew Brasher, a judge from Alabama despised by Democrats and left-leaning advocacy groups who was only recently confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.
Brasher’s May 2019 confirmation to that district court seat was as contentious as his current battle has been; according to CNS, Democrats took exception to the judge’s tenure as Alabama’s solicitor general, a role in which he advocated in numerous court cases on behalf of the state and defended against challenges to the state’s laws, including its restrictions on abortion.
Brasher was also known for his defense of voter identification laws and efforts to overturn a provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act that limits how states handle elections.
It was positions like these that led organizations like the NAACP to express opposition to Brasher’s nomination. According to CNS, the group characterized Brasher as an “extreme ideologue” and a threat to “critical civil and human rights.”
A well-qualified judge
Still, Graham’s GOP-dominated panel voted 12–10 along party lines on Thursday to advance Trump’s nomination of Brasher to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to the Senate floor for a vote, according to The Washington Times.
This likely has to do with the judge’s exemplary resume; according to reports, Brasher has a Harvard Law degree, served as a clerk for a judge on the 11th Circuit, and holds a “well qualified” rating from the American Bar Association. Republicans have also long defended Brasher’s tenure as solicitor general, pointing out that it was the now-judge’s job to act on behalf of the state, rather than in accordance with his own views.
“Now I know this is a news flash, but Alabama is a conservative state,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said, according to CNS. “The governor tends to be conservative, the legislature tends to be conservative and lawyers represent the positions of their clients.”
A changing landscape
With the impeachment trial set to consume all of the Senate’s attention for the next several weeks, it remains unclear when Brasher’s nomination will be called to the upper chamber’s floor for a full vote. But if and when he is confirmed, Brasher will be one of the youngest judges to be appointed for a lifetime of service, according to Bloomberg Law, at just 38 years old.
This marks a significant accomplishment for President Trump, who has already confirmed no less than 183 conservative judges to federal district and circuit courts across the country, according to Bloomberg Law — not to mention two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Indeed, changing the judiciary landscape may go down as one of President Trump’s greatest achievements — and one that will continue to have an impact for generations to come.