A MAGA senator from Tennessee has harshly criticized President Joe Biden’s nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit over what she described as a “rap sheet” of speeding tickets.
Lawyer Andre Mathis, who is Black, doesn’t have a criminal record, but he did once get a ticket for going five miles over the speed limit, The Huffington Post reported. However, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) declared that she has serious concerns with Mathis.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Dec. 12, Blackburn said she would oppose Mathis’ nomination for various reasons. Still, from the way she questioned him, it appears that the main reason was his decade-old speeding tickets. She also said she thinks Mathis lacks enough experience for the job. Instead, the senator said she preferred Camille McMullen, an African American judge on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, for the slot, The Huffington Post reported.
“He has a rap sheet with a laundry list of citations, including multiple failures to appear in court,” said the Republican senator of Mathis, suggesting he has a criminal record. “In Tennessee, we expect our judges to respect the law. If Mr. Mathis thought he was above the law before, imagine how he’ll conduct himself if he’s confirmed as a federal judge.”
The so-called rap sheet was related to three speeding tickets Mathis got more than 10 years ago — one for going five miles over the speed limit. His driver’s license was temporarily suspended when he failed to pay the tickets on time.
Mathis told the committee he had never been arrested or charged with a crime. Regarding his speeding tickets, he said he forgot to pay them and didn’t realize his license had been suspended until he received a notice from the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles. He then paid for the tickets.
Responding to Blackburn’s questioning of Mathis, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said to Mathis, “Sen. Blackburn refers to your ‘rap sheet,’ is what she called it. “Well, if speeding tickets are a rap sheet, I’ve got one too. I never got a speeding ticket for driving five miles over the limit, which apparently is one of your tickets. … We’ve all I think been guilty of that sin and perhaps all have a rap sheet that’s over six miles or more.”
Sen Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked Mathis if he had experienced “driving while Black.”
“I was pulled over quite a few more times than [my white friends] were,” Booker said. “We all knew what it was about. My brother and I used to think, ‘If we’re Black, you just prepare for being pulled over.’ Sometimes I was pulled over for going 3 miles over the speed limit, for something cracked or that looked awry on my car.”
Mathis said, “I take responsibility for my actions. I don’t want to blame anything or anyone else for what I did. That’s what I’ll say about that … I highly regret that I’m in this situation. I feel like I’ve embarrassed my family. While I deserve this, they don’t.”
Sen. Booker said, “I laughed with my staff that I have a rap sheet now, probably much longer than the witness’s.” Booker then recalled a story about being the first Black family in his New Jersey neighborhood as a kid.
Booker commended Mathis for how he answered the question. “Sir, that is a great answer. And in many ways, the humility and respect I think your character speaks to.”
A Twitter user compared Mathis’s demeanor to that of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who in 2018 tried to trivialize an alleged sexual assault that occurred during his high school years while he was under the influence of alcohol. “Yes, we drank beer. My friends and I. Boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer,” Kavanaugh said during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Many saw this as a way to brush off the allegations.
“Such a difference in dignity between this man and an oversized frat bro sobbing I LIKE BEER,” tweeted Matt “Plz Get Vaxxed” Gordon (@DrMattyG).
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1980, Mathis was raised in South Memphis. He received a full scholarship to the University of Memphis and graduated with a B.A. in 2003. He attended the University of Memphis School of Law and graduated in 2007 with a J.D. cum laude. His civil and criminal federal legal experience mainly focused on civil litigation. Mathis joined Glankler Brown, a Memphis, Tennessee firm, as an associate and was promoted to a member in 2016. Mathis joined Butler Snow law firm as a partner in 2020, according to his biography on the Alliance for Justice website. A progressive judicial advocacy group, the alliance backs Mathis’ nomination.
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Photo: Andre B. Mathis has been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. (Photo: Butler Snow Law Firm) (Butler Snow)