February 11, 2020
Dear Chair Graham, Ranking Member Feinstein and Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:
On behalf of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), and its 4,000 circuit, state, and local affiliate members across the country, we write to express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Cory Wilson to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. NELA is the largest professional membership organization in the country comprised of lawyers who represent workers in labor, employment, and civil rights disputes. Founded in 1985, NELA advances employee rights and serves lawyers who advocate for equality and justice in the American workplace. Our members represent plaintiffs in employment cases in every state, including Mississippi, where Judge Wilson has been nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Our members and the thousands of clients they represent afford NELA a unique perspective on how judicial decisions impact the daily lives and the rights of working people.
NELA is is committed to doing everything possible to ensure that lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary will be filled by individuals who adhere to the rule of law, and are deeply committed to protecting the rights of all working people, especially in matters of civil rights and the well-established doctrines protecting underrepresented communities in the workplace. NELA carefully considers each nominee including his or her record, through this lens.
We oppose Judge Wilson’s confirmation because his record clearly reflects strongly held beliefs that are counter to existing civil and workers’ rights laws. There is no countervailing evidence suggesting that if confirmed he will set aside his strongly held views and administer justice to all individuals equally. Judge Wilson’s public record reflects someone who has sought to diminish the civil rights of certain groups, rather than rigorously uphold them. Further his record clearly indicates that he does not have the temperament of dignity, non-partisanship, respect for the law and respect for our elected officials, all of which are essential to ensure actual fairness and impartiality as well as the appearance of fairness, toward all litigants.
Judge Wilson’s Record Demonstrates Extreme Hostility Toward LBTQ People And Existing Laws Protecting LGBTQ Individuals
It should go without saying that a federal judge should embody in words and in deeds, commitment to the rule of law. Judge Wilson’s record makes clear that he cannot make such a commitment to laws with which he disagrees. Just two of many examples follow. As a Mississippi legislator, he voted for the controversial bill HB 15231 which has been called the nation’s most extreme anti-LGBTQ law. The law allows Mississippians with anti-LGBTQ religious beliefs to discriminate by refusing service to married same-sex couples, people who have sex outside of marriage, and/or transgender people. The law permits state employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, public school counselors to turn away LGBTQ youth in crisis, and allows health care providers to deny transgender people access to health care at any time.
In a 2012 op-ed, Mr. Wilson wrote that “gay marriage is a pander to liberal interest groups and an attempt to cast Republicans as intolerant, uncaring and even bigoted.” He continued: “At the time [1990s], the idea of homosexual marriage was so beyond seriousness that I thought it could never happen… The culture warriors on the left demand unconditional surrender.”2 Judge Wilson’s statements make clear that he regards as illegitmate any view other than his, and that he would be unable or unwilling (or both) to serve as a fair and unbiased decisionmkaker, in any case involving LGBTQ rights or even a case involving a litigant from the LGBTQ community. Such bias should be disqualifying for a federal judge.
Judge Wilson Lacks Judicial Temperament
Impartiality and neutrality are hallmarks of the American judicial system that were built into the Constitution by the Framers. Any nominee for a seat on the federal bench should display exemplary temperament modeling for our democratic system. We are stating the obvious when we say a federal judge should respect for elected officials, members of both political parties, and for the judiciary itself.
NELA’s belief that Judge Wilson is not fit for the federal bench is heightened by the volume, crudeness, and disrespectful tone of Judge Wilson’s many partisan tweets. We note here just a very few among many such tweets and public comments made by Judge Wilson, all of which are mean-spirited and lacking in decorum at best, and outright dishonest at worst, has made false and vindictive comments about, among others, Secretary Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In this regard he has shown himself to be utterly incapable of serving as a neutral arbiter. Just a few examples of Judge Wilson’s intemperate comments from among the many examples follow below:
- In an August 23, 2016 tweet, Mr. Wilson wrote “#Crooked Hillary” after asserting: “More emails, more evidence of Clinton pay-for-play and dishonesty.”3 A few weeks later, he tweeted: “Felony dumb or willfully ignorant? Troubling read: FBI Data Dump Shows #CrookedClinton Is Criminal and Clueless.”4
- In a May 24, 2012 op-ed, Mr. Wilson sarcastically wrote that “an intellectually honest Democrat” was a “rare sighting” and “exotic creature.”5
- Judge Wilson repeatedly has referred to President Barack Obama as “King Barack,”6 “the Anointed One,” and “a radical leftist with no experience in governing.”
- In a July 28, 2018 tweet, Judge Wilson disparaged Congressional candidate Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as, “the new face of @TheDemocrats…And this claptrap is rapidly becoming the Dem agenda. #CanSheFindVenezuelaOnAMap”7
Judge Wilson’s Nomination Should Not Be Advanced
We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote not to advance this dangerous and unqualified nominee. Judge Wilson should not be confirmed, and in fact, his nomination should not be approved by this Committee.
If confirmed, Judge Wilson’s extreme views will cause incalculable harm to civil and employee rights that have been part of the mainstream for decades. Our nation, and each one of us, functions on a daily basis thanks to the every-day working people who are NELA members’ clients. Servers in restaurants, parking attendants, teachers, nurses, and millions of other working people keep our society functioning. The working people of our nation and their families who depend on them deserve federal judges who clearly demonstrate that they respect both the rule of law and the intent of Congress in passing our civil and workplace rights laws. Loyalty to our Constitution and civil rights laws is a baseline qualification for a federal judge. NELA strongly urges you to stand on behalf of working people across this country and to oppose the confirmation of Cory Wilson. If you have questions or wish to discuss this letter, please contact Laura Flegel, Legislative & Public Policy Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your consideration.
Laura M. Flegel
Legislative & Public Policy Director