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Senator questions county native's experience in Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

Allison Jones Rushing Allison Jones Rushing

Alison Jones Rushing, the 36-year-old East Flat Rock native nominated for a seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, faced questions about her relative lack of experience when she sat for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

President Trump nominated Rushing, a graduate of East Henderson High School who is a partner at Williams & Connolly, for a seat on the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Multiple media reports described a sparsely attended Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday in which Republican senators questioned six federal court nominees. Rushing faced friendly fire from Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, according to reports in Roll Call and the New York Times.
“You’re a rock star, but I think to be a really good federal judge you’ve got to have some life experience,” Kennedy said. “Williams & Connolly is a great law firm, a lot of great lawyers there. Tell me why you’re more qualified to be on the Fourth Circuit than some of the Williams & Connolly (lawyers) that have been there for 20 years, 25, 30 years in the trenches.”

“Again senator, my experience in the federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court are why I’m qualified. Not only the depth of that experience but the variety,” Rushing responded, according to Roll Call. “The judges on the courts of appeals get a wide variety of cases, and I have that experience in criminal law, prisoner petitions, products liability, intellectual property, commercial disputes, constitutional issues.”

Rushing, an honors graduate of Wake Forest University and Duke University's School of Law, clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, before he became a Supreme Court justice, but has never been a judge. If confirmed, she would become the youngest nominee to take the federal bench in more than 15 years, the Times reported.

While liberal advocacy groups have raised questions about her relative lack of experience, conservatives, including U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr of North Carolina, have enthusiastically endorsed her nomination and praised her record in appellate work. A member of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group that has been advising the Trump administration on judicial nominees, Rushing has also worked for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit whose clients include the Colorado baker whose refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple led to a Supreme Court case, the Times said.