Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is proudly defending his record of voting against many of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, including his opposition to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Judge Andrew Brasher, an Alabamian.
A piece published by National Journal on Thursday examined Jones’ record on judicial nominees since he took office in January 2018. According to the publication’s analysis of all roll call and voice votes since then, Jones has voted for judicial nominees approximately 60% of the time.
“I don’t think people elected me to be a damn rubber stamp,” Jones said, embracing his record.
Historically, judicial nominations have been confirmed on overwhelming bipartisan votes unless something heinous pops up during the vetting process.
However, in the hyper-partisan environment the country has witnessed recently, Jones views his record as being prudent.
He also claimed that on each individual judicial nominee, he starts with a presumption of confirmation given the president’s “constitutional right to appoint judges that follow their basic general beliefs.”
Jones outlined that he weighs each nominee based on résumé, including trial experience. Alabama’s junior senator said he and his staff also scrutinize nominees’ opinions, writings and speeches for “inflammatory statements.” Another alleged disqualifier for Jones is any evidence that a nominee has a “political agenda.”
He noted a “political agenda” is different than a “judicial philosophy.”
One key example of Jones opposition to a judicial nominee mentioned in the National Journal article was Brasher, who was confirmed as a U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Alabama earlier this year.
A native of Montgomery and solicitor general of Alabama at the time of his nomination, Brasher was green-lighted by Jones throughout the confirmation process — until the final vote itself, when Jones surprisingly opposed his state’s distinguished nominee. This, at the time, drew significant criticism of Jones from back at home.
Defending that vote to National Journal, Jones said he opposed Brasher because he believed the solicitor general had a “judicial agenda.”
However, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) told the outlet he found that reasoning “disingenuous.”
Byrne said, “[Y]our obligation [as solicitor general] is to defend the position of the state. Senator Jones of all people, being a former prosecutor, should know that.”
During the interview, Jones also admitted to one “protest vote” during his tenure, saying he opposed the confirmation of 7th Circuit Judge Michael Brennan last year purely in objection to Republican tactics that had kept the same seat open during the Obama administration.
Of course, the most publicized Jones “nay” vote was discussed, too.
He seemed eager, once again, to relitigate his controversial opposition to Kavanaugh. He has previously defended the vote, in part, by asserting that representing the majority of Alabamians is not “the be all to end all.”
To National Journal, Jones doubled down once again, “The people in Alabama, voters, didn’t do the due diligence I did.”
He continued, “And I look them in the eye, and I tell them, ‘Here’s the thing about it: If somebody had acted that way with you and you saw that kind of demeanor, I don’t think you would have hired that person.’”
Jones also lamented that his voting record will be “weaponized” against him in 2020.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn