By Frederick H. Lowe
The Congressional Black Caucus has mailed letters to the Senate Majority Leader and the Senate Minority Leader, urging the Senate to vote down the nomination of Andrew S. Oldham for judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals because of his history of challenging nonwhites’ access to employment, voting rights, public housing and integrated education.
The two-page letter mailed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer, the Senate’s Minority Leader, said, “Mr. Oldham’s career is full instances in which he sought to curtail the legal protections afforded minorities. For example, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance to assist employers in understanding their responsibility to ensure they did not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by asking questions concerning criminal histories, Mr. Oldham argued that evidence of disparate impact of minorities was not sufficient to justify the guidance.”
A Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday delayed a vote on Oldham’s nomination after Democrats flogged him for his deeply conservative record as a legal adviser to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D., California) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D., New Jersey) are committee members and they are members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The Congressional Black Caucus has joined a host of groups, including the Sierra Club, the Alliance for Justice, and Leadership Council of Civil Rights, organizations urging the Senate to reject Oldham’s nomination.
President Donald Trump nominated Oldham to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals February 25 to fill the vacancy left by Judge Edward Prado to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina. At 39, Oldham is the youngest person Trump has nominated to the federal bench.
Currently, Oldham is general counsel to Abbott. He has worked for Abbott since 2012, serving as deputy solicitor general, deputy general counsel, and acting general counsel for Abbott. He graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked for Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Jr.
Despite his resume, the CBC argues Oldham shouldn’t have seat on the Fifth Circuit because of his verbal opinions such as the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. During his confirmation hearing, Oldham refused to say if the landmark case was correctly decided. The Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren decided the case 9-0 overturning Plessy v. Ferguson, which in 1896 sanctioned racial segregation.
“Refusing to say whether this most important of cases, which established so many of the rights that we enjoy today, was properly decided should completely disqualify a nominee seeking a lifetime appointment to the federal bench,” the letter writers urged.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is based in New Orleans. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reorganization Act divided the Fifth Circuit into two circuits, reorganizing the judicial districts of Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and the Canal Zone as a new Fifth Circuit and Alabama, Georgia, and Florida as the Eleventh Circuit.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, chair of the CBC Judicial Nominations Working Group, signed the letter.