Alabama NAACP, others oppose Trump nominee to federal appeals court


(David Robertson Photography)

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Brasher U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama

The president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP joined U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and others on a press conference call today opposing President Trump’s nomination of an Alabama judge to a federal appeals court.

The Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation of U.S. District Judge Andrew Brasher to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals this week. Brasher became a district judge last year. The 11th Circuit includes Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton, Coons, and others on today’s conference call cited positions Brasher supported while working at the Alabama attorney general’s office as evidence that he would not protect certain civil rights, including voting rights and abortion rights. Read a letter about their concerns here and at the end of this article.

Brasher was one of the state’s lawyers who filed a brief in 2013 urging the U.S. Supreme Court to end a requirement under the Voting Rights Act for Alabama to receive approval from the Justice Department before enforcing any changes in election laws. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Shelby County in that case in 2013, effectively ending the pre-clearance requirement for Alabama and other states.

Critics of that decision say it opened the door for laws that place new restrictions on voting rights, like the state’s photo voter ID law that took effect after the decision.

The state argued in its brief that the pre-clearance requirement was needed when it was imposed in 1965 but that it was not justified decades later.

Brasher’s critics also took issue with his opposition to a lawsuit filed by people seeking to regain their voting rights after completing their sentences for felonies and his defense of laws passed by the Alabama Legislature that placed restrictions or regulations on abortion.

“We depend on our federal courts to enforce the Voting Rights Act,” Simelton said. “And that doesn’t change just because Donald Trump is president. And this is precisely when we need to be more vigilant. Voter suppression is more rampant with each passing day and we are fighting back, and that means protecting our courts also.”

Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who questioned Brasher during his confirmation hearing, said stopping the Brasher nomination is a critical moment “in continuing the fight against Trump’s absolutely uncalled for, unqualified, conservative nominees, who are going to keep moving us to the right and stripping us of our vital protections.”

If Brasher is confirmed, it will mark a fast rise through the judicial ranks. Brasher, a graduate of Harvard Law School in 2006, became a U.S. District judge last year after his appointment by Trump.

The NAACP and other groups had previously said the Senate should not consider Trump’s judicial appointments while the impeachment case against the president was still pending. The Senate acquitted Trump last week.

Alyssa Pettus, press secretary for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said in an email, “Senator Shelby is supportive of Judge Brasher’s confirmation in the Senate and believes he is an esteemed candidate and well-suited for the role.”

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, did not support Brasher’s nomination to the District Court.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has also expressed support for Brasher’s confirmation.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan issued this statement today about the opposition to Brasher’s confirmation: “This is just a bogus excuse from Democrats who once again are spreading falsehoods about voter suppression. If an eligible citizen wants to register and vote they have that right. Liberals and their affiliated groups are terrified of conservatives being appointed to our courts. The fact is Alabama has record breaking voter registration and voter participation in our elections. That’s not voter suppression – that’s voter engagement.”