President Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Justin Walker for the federal appeals court in D.C. has provoked a new fight among activists on both sides of the partisan divide.
Mr. Walker’s liberal opponents formerly focused on his age but they now intend to hone in on his actions relating to health care.
Mr. Walker’s age, 37 years old, was a point of contention ahead of his confirmation to a lower court judgeship in October 2019, with the American Bar Association branding Mr. Walker as “not qualified” because of his fewer than 12 years practicing law.
Now, the fault lines emerging over Mr. Walker’s nomination appear more ideological. Progressive groups said Friday they intend to make Obamacare and health care the primary components of their advocacy against Mr. Walker because of the stakes involved in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
People For the American Way, a progressive advocacy group, said Friday that Mr. Walker’s previous praise for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s actions as a lower court judge show that Mr. Walker is hostile toward affordable health care.
“Justin Walker would be wholly unsuitable and unqualified for one of our nation’s highest appellate courts at any time, but his nomination is especially egregious now in the middle of a national public health crisis,” Marge Baker, PFAW executive vice president, said in a statement. “Walker is an anti-government zealot at a time when lives depend on the government being able to act.”
The Center for American Progress’ Maggie Jo Buchanan said Friday that Mr. Walker was an “unqualified, ideological extremist who would strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and take away health care from millions of Americans.”
Mr. Walker has many allies that rallied to his corner on Friday. His nomination drew widespread praise from judicial conservatives who were thrilled by his selection.
Mike Davis, Article III Project president and former Senate Judiciary Committee top counsel on nominations, said Mr. Walker’s confirmation would help “protect all of us from the reptiles in The Swamp” of D.C.
“Judge Walker will bring to the Second Highest Court in the Land his everyday-American upbringing, Midwestern sensibilities, impeccable credentials, conservative judicial philosophy, and brilliant legal mind,” Mr. Davis said. “He understands that his modest, but critical, role as a judge is to interpret the law as written—not how he wishes it were written if he were a senator.”
Judicial Crisis Network president Carrie Severino, who similarly advocates in support of Mr. Trump’s nominees, praised Mr. Walker’s originalist scholarship on the separation of powers and administrative state issues.
“Judge Walker was an unrelenting defender of Justice Kavanaugh during the left’s unprecedented smear campaign,” Ms. Severino tweeted. “I expect Walker to bring similar courage with him to the DC Circuit as he defends the rule of law. I look forward to his confirmation.”
The Senate, which processes judicial nominations, adjourned last week and is out until later this month, potentially April 20.