The Senate confirmed its 200th federal judge under President Donald Trump Wednesday, a key milestone in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s push to reshape the judiciary.
In a 52-48 vote, the Senate approved Cory Wilson to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the sole Republican to vote against his nomination, along with all Democrats.
Prior to his confirmation, McConnell described Wilson as an “outstanding choice” with impeccable legal credentials. The Kentucky Republican also highlighted that Wilson’s confirmation means that there will no longer be any circuit court vacancies for Trump and the GOP to fill.
“There will not be a single court vacancy anywhere in the nation for the first time in at least 40 years,” McConnell said. “Our work with the administration to renew our federal courts is not a partisan or political victory. It’s a victory for the rule of law and for the Constitution itself.”
Democrats scoff at that statement and shudder at McConnell’s vow to leave no vacancy behind.
They also argued Wilson was inappropriate to serve, citing serious concerns about his record on voting rights.
In a letter sent Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) along with Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) urged McConnell not to move forward with his nomination. They noted Wilson’s strong support for voter ID laws, which they said encourages voter suppression.
“Judge Wilson has been an ardent supporter of restrictive voting measures, including voter ID laws that disproportionately harm minority voters, and he has shown a pattern of dismissing legitimate concerns from voting rights groups,” they wrote.
They added that Wilson’s nomination is a “slap in the face to Black Americans at a time when our country is working to take steps forward on racial justice, not backwards.”
In a statement, Collins said Wilson’s comments about the Affordable Care Act as “perverse” and “illegitimate” raise “doubts about his ability to rule impartially on matters where he holds very strong personal views.”
Wilson, who was nominated in May, is a state court judge in Mississippi and served in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He was previously nominated as a district judge for the Southern District of Mississippi.
Trump had previously picked Halil Suleyman “Sul” Ozerden for the post on the Fifth Circuit. But Ozerden faced a GOP revolt over his commitment to religious liberty after he ruled that a lawsuit against the ACA’s contraceptive mandate was premature.