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  • Ashley Baker

Overview: Judge Justin Walker, Nominee to the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

In April 2020, President Trump nominated Judge Justin Walker, currently serving on the U.S. District Court in Kentucky, to a pending vacancy on the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Below is information on Judge Walker and the D.C. Circuit:

The D.C. Circuit

- The U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is the most important court in the nation after the Supreme Court. It hears many of the cases that determine the limits on the authority of the president and the rest of the executive branch and the relationship between the three branches.

- As a law professor, Justin Walker's scholarship focused on issues – including administrative law, separation of powers, and national security – that commonly come before the D.C. Circuit.

- Because of the D.C. Circuit's importance and the intellectual challenge of serving on this court, presidents looking for a D.C. Circuit nominee have often searched across the nation to find the best and the brightest, rather than limiting their search to the D.C. area. Walker, who has spent most of his legal career in Kentucky, is an example of this.

- Because of the D.C. Circuit's importance, Senate Democrats and their allies are already fiercely attacking Walker's nomination.

Impeccable Credentials

- Despite Justin Walker's humble upbringing – he was brought up in Louisville, KY by a single mother who never attended college – he rose quickly to become one of the nation's most respected lawyers and legal scholars.

- Walker graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, after graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University.

- Following law school, Walker clerked on the D.C. Circuit for future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and on the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

- Forbes Magazine chose Walker for its 30 Under 30 list for "Law and Policy" in 2011.

- Before becoming a judge, Walker was a tenure-track professor at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, where he published articles in various law reviews.

- Despite his many accomplishments, Walker has always made time for volunteer work. He worked for six years as the unpaid executive director of the Global Game Changers Student Empowerment Program and he ran a program that taught writing skills to disadvantaged high school students in Louisville.

Judicial Philosophy

- Judge Walker has a conservative judicial philosophy. His interprets the law according to the principles of textualism and originalism, rather than injecting his personal policy preferences into his decisions.

- Walker will uphold the Constitution's separation of powers, its federalist structure, and its limits on government power.

- As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, "Judge Walker is a brilliant and fair jurist who reveres the Constitution and our nation’s founding principles. He understands the crucial but limited role that a judge must play in our constitutional order."

What They Are Saying

- When Justin Walker was nominated to the district court, more than 100 of Walker’s law students wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee to say that "Given the concern and compassion he shows for students, his commitment to diversity and equality, his humility, his open-mindedness, and his ability to teach and inspire, we believe Professor Walker will be an excellent federal judge.”

- More than 80 practicing attorneys in Kentucky also wrote to the Committee to praise Walker. They said that "Justin is a person of integrity who cares about the rule of law and the dignity of the individual” and that his “rigorous legal mind is matched by his ability to listen carefully."

- Sixteen of Walker's faculty colleagues at the Brandeis School of Law wrote that "[T]here is a greater need than ever for thoughtful, open-minded judges whose work creates both the perception and the reality of being willing to engage with those who have differing perspectives. Justin has always been exactly that kind of colleague, and we have no doubt he will be that kind of judge." They added that "[W]e have seen in his work as our colleague that he has all the qualities of intellect, industry, thoughtfulness, and temperament that are essential for a judge.”


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