The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Trump's federal judge nominee, Cory Wilson, a Mississippi attorney and former state legislator who has called for the "complete and immediate" reversal of Roe v. Wade. Wilson will sit on the traditionally conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a highly-watched court by abortion-rights activists.
In 2007, during a state congressional campaign, Wilson sought the endorsement of Mississippi Right to Life, a state affiliate of the country's largest anti-abortion rights groups. During that process, the attorney filled out a questionnaire identifying his position on abortion rights, indicating that he was in favor of the "complete and immediate" reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that nationally legalized the procedure.
Wilson agreed with Mississippi Right to Life's anti-abortion rights platform on nearly all but one issue. While the activist group believed abortion should be available to "save the life" of the patient, Wilson did not. He indicated on the questionnaire that he believed abortion should be illegal in all cases, including when the procedure could save the patient's life.
Only 26 countries, including El Salvador and Iraq, have such strict abortion laws in place, according to data compiled by the Center for Reproductive Rights, an abortion rights law firm.
"Forty years on, we still live under Roe v. Wade, the result of a liberal activist court," Wilson wrote in a 2012 opinion piece supporting Mitt Romney's presidential run.
Wilson did not return a voicemail and email requesting comment. Mississippi Right to Life did not respond to an email requesting comment.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate confirmed Wilson, President Trump's 200th nominee, to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a vote of 52 to 48. With Wilson's confirmation, Mr. Trump has now filled all vacancies to the federal circuit courts.
When asked about his stance on abortion during his Senate confirmation hearings, Wilson declined "to comment on political issues... that may come before the court," but said any political or personal views do not "play any part in deciding cases" as a judge.
Through judicial nominations, Mr. Trump has pledged his commitment to overturning abortion protections. On the campaign trail in 2016, Mr. Trump told voters that if he were elected Roe would be overturned "automatically... because I am putting pro-life justices on the court."
Anti-abortion rights groups praised the confirmation on Wednesday. In a statement emailed to CBS News, Tom McClusky, the President of March for Life Action, wrote Mr. Trump had "successfully reshaped the Federal Judiciary in a positive way."
"Already we have seen positive developments in cases involving women and the unborn," McClusky said.
The Supreme Court could soon rule on its first major abortion rights case since Mr. Trump's two appointees — Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — took the bench. The highly anticipated decision in the case, June Medical Services v. Russo, will indicate their willingness to dismantle the current legal protections surrounding abortion rights.
Wilson's new court, the traditionally conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is highly influential court for abortion rights activists on both sides of the issue. Covering Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, the court is tasked with handling some of the country's strictest regulations on the procedure. Earlier this year, the federal court ruled that Texas could ban abortion services amid the coronavirus pandemic as part of the state's ban on some medical procedures.
In 2018, the court upheld the Louisiana restriction at the center of June Medical Services v Russo, despite a Supreme Court decision from 2016 that found a nearly identical law out of Texas unconstitutional.
First published on June 25, 2020 / 10:33 AM
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