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Update on Walker Vetting

Concerns remain that the vetting process to place Justin Walker in a not-yet-vacant D.C. Circuit seat was incomplete. After FTC uncovered a loan of up to $100,000 that Walker gave two former students, one of whom had served as his unpaid teaching assistant, the other of whom is currently his law clerk, we’ve learned/done a lot more and believe the Senate should postpone its vote so we and they can investigate. (For background, read our prior posts.)

Here’s what we’ve been working on today, amid probing some rumors that would grind the nomination to a halt:

We’ve obtained two of Walker’s statements of net worth, one dated June 21, 2019 (p. 59), and the other dated April 3, 2020 (p. 71). The former indicates that $86,133 was left on the loan a year ago, and the latter says $79,700 remained two months ago. A DOJ spokesperson told FTC on Tuesday that the loan to Jake Grey and Leah Spears has been paid in full, meaning they somehow came up with close to $80,000 in the last two months.

We’ve contacted the Judicial Conference’s Codes of Conduct Committee to ask for their position on the ethical concerns raised by Walker’s decision to loan money to two individuals with whom he had ongoing professional relationships. Our questions focus on the propriety of the loan in light of the power imbalances between a professor and an unpaid teaching assistant and between a judge and his law clerk.

We’ve submitted another records request to the University of Louisville (all four FOIAs are here), this one for complaints against Walker and his course evaluations.

Walker’s course syllabi given to the Judiciary Committee in April or May and obtained by FTC yesterday confirm that he co-taught his spring 2020 class with Jake Grey. This morning, we received confirmation that Grey was not paid by the school in fall 2019, so the loan could be acting as an alternative form of compensation.

While 16 of Walker’s colleagues at Brandeis Law signed a letter of support for his nomination to the U.S. District Court, there is no such letter for his nomination to the D.C. Circuit, just three individual letters from conservative law profs.

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