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WASHINGTON, DC (May 5, 2020) – National and state civil rights organizations today announced their vehement opposition to Senate confirmation of Cory Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Last week, the Senate announced it would move Donald Trump’s judicial nominations although millions of Americans are suffering from coronavirus and its impact. Cory Wilson is one of two pending appellate nominees.  

President Trump initially nominated Cory Wilson to the Southern District of Mississippi. Although the Senate Judiciary Committee never voted on his district court nomination, Trump announced last month he was nominating Wilson to the Fifth Circuit.  

The Fifth Circuit is the federal appellate court for Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. It presides over the highest percentage of residents of color in the country. Trump has already appointed five of the 17 judges sitting on the court.

“President Trump has turned the clock back on racial and gender diversity of the courts leaving the nation with a federal judiciary that is now 73% white and 66% male. The nomination of Cory Wilson to a lifetime seat on the Fifth Circuit poses a serious threat to the welfare of Black and Brown communities in the Deep South. His record of pedaling myths of voter fraud to advance voter suppression efforts in Mississippi is particularly egregious,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Additionally, his hardened stance on access to health care is particularly appalling during the current COVID-19 pandemic as African Americans in the South and across the country are dying at an alarming rate from the virus. Based on his record, it is clear that Cory Wilson will not be a fair and neutral judge on issues paramount for people of color. The Fifth Circuit serves a region of the country that is incredibly diverse and is currently comprised of a majority of people of color. To garner the faith and confidence of the public, the Fifth Circuit must better reflect the racial diversity of the communities it serves. In no uncertain terms, we oppose the nomination of Cory Wilson to the Fifth Circuit and urge the Senate to halt his nomination.” To read the Lawyers’ Committee opposition letter, click here.

“Cory Wilson is an extreme example of Donald Trump’s weaponizing the bench to suppress the vote. It’s no accident that he is nominated to sit on the Fifth Circuit, where voting rights are always on the docket, said Derrick Johnson, president & CEO, NAACP. “Cory Wilson crafted and then repeatedly defended voter ID laws. He doubts whether voter suppression exists. He has criticized those who enforce the Voting Rights Act. He simply cannot be entrusted to sit on a circuit court in the Deep South that is the first line of defense against disenfranchisement of millions of Black and Brown voters.”  To read the NAACP’s opposition letter, click here.

“Black Mississippians have struggled more than most to secure and exercise the right to vote. The very first lawsuit to enforce the Voting Rights Act was filed in Mississippi. We need federal judges who respect that history and will enforce the right to vote, which is preservative of all other rights. Cory Wilson is unfit for the federal appellate court. He has championed the exclusion of communities of color from our democracy. He is incapable of judging civil rights cases with impartiality and fairness. Mississippi can do much better,” said Corey Wiggins, Executive Director, Mississippi State Conference of NAACP.

“Donald Trump has demonstrated his hostility to the Latino community in many ways, none more telling than his failure to place a Latino or Latina judge on the Fifth Circuit, a circuit dominated by Texas with its 40 percent Latino population,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “Nominating someone hostile to minority voting rights compounds the insult and injury.” To read MALDEF’s opposition letter, click here.

“During this global pandemic, the United States Senate should stop considering all judicial nominees, including Cory Wilson. Instead, legislators must prioritize developing and advancing legislation to support Americans—especially Black people, whose health and welfare are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). “While the Senate’s ongoing consideration of nominees is unacceptable on its own, it’s made even more egregious in light of this administration’s repeated nomination of unqualified candidates for lifetime federal judicial appointments. Mr. Wilson’s well-documented lack of litigation experience (augmented by only a few months on a state court bench), his overt hostility to voting rights, and his publicly-espoused desire to overturn Supreme Court precedent make him ill-suited to serve as a circuit court judge, where he will be asked to opine on complex litigation and where impartiality, respect for civil rights, and commitment to upholding the rule of law are of utmost importance.” To read the NAACP LDF’s opposition letter, click here.