GOP senator helps confirm Black Biden judicial nominee after his colleague's racist attack
Senator John Kennedy during a hearing. (MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP)

On Thursday, POLITICO reported that Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) broke ranks with his Republican colleagues to help confirm Andre Mathis to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit — the first Black man to be confirmed to that court in nearly a quarter century.

"Mathis did so by one vote, clearing the Senate 48-47 with Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) breaking from his party to give the nominee the votes," said the report. "If Mathis' nomination failed, Democrats would've had to bring it up again — burning valuable floor time during a time crunch before the midterms."

The report continued: "When asked why he voted for the Biden-appointed nominee, Kennedy told reporters: 'He did a great job in committee, in my opinion. He's a partner at Butler Snow, which is a major national law firm. The criminal record that they talked about, that he forgot to face some traffic tickets, when they contacted him about it through a warrant, he just said, 'It's true, I forgot to pay them,' and he paid up, but I just didn't think that was disqualifying."

Mathis' unpaid traffic tickets were a point of contention for other Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) provoked controversy when she interrogated Mathis over the tickets, referring to them as a "rap sheet."

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"The conservative Kennedy rarely diverges from his party," noted the report. "His vote only proved decisive with three Democratic senators out of office due to Covid — Sens. Jon Ossoff (Ga.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.), and Bob Menendez (N.J.) — but Kennedy still manages to occasionally surprise Senate watchers. He's voted with Democrats against a former judicial nominee appointed by Donald Trump, in favor of a net neutrality bill and for an amendment to cap the price of insulin at $35."

This comes as President Joe Biden confirms judicial nominees at a lighting-fast rate. As of August, he had more federal judges confirmed than any president since John F. Kennedy — which could allow him to leave a legacy on the federal bench even if Republicans take control of the Senate in the midterms, which would give him significantly less freedom over his appointments.

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