Senate

Judge calls for investigation into whether McConnell pressured judge to retire

A federal judge is calling for an investigation to find out whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pressured a Washington, D.C., federal judge to retire so the senator could nominate judge Justin Walker, a 38-year-old Kentucky federal judge who was confirmed for his current role in October. 

Demand Justice, a progressive judicial watchdog group, requested a postponement of Wednesday’s scheduled hearing on the nomination of Walker. 

“The hearing on Walker’s nomination should not go forward until we know the truth about what ethical lines Mitch McConnell crossed to get Walker this seat,” Demand Justice said in a statement. “McConnell should come clean about whether and when he contacted Judge Thomas Griffith prior to his sudden retirement.” 

On Friday, Sri Srinivasan, the chief justice of the court to which Walker has been nominated, issued a public order asking U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to transfer to another circuit after Demand Justice’s allegation.  

The New York Times has reported that McConnell has allegedly pressured judges to retire in time for President Trump to fill their vacancies this term. A spokesperson for McConnell’s office told The Hill that the senator, “looks forward to watching Judge Walker’s confirmation hearing this week.”

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) a letter last week urging him to delay the hearing, which will come two days after the Senate returns from a five-week recess. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has brought up concerns about Walker’s qualifications. 

“The rumor is he wants to put a judge on the calendar whose claim to fame seems to be that he worked for [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)] as a staffer. … The ABA [American Bar Association] rated him unqualified,” Schumer said Monday during an interview with “Morning Joe.”

At the time of his October confirmation, the ABA rated Walker “not qualified,” saying that the “Standing Committee believes that Mr. Walker does not presently have the requisite trial or litigation experience or its equivalent.” 

Tags Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell

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