WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate on Tuesday confirmed a Georgia Supreme Court justice and former state solicitor general to a seat on the 11th Circuit.
Justice Britt Grant has served on the Georgia Supreme Court since 2017, having worked as the state’s solicitor general from 2012 to 2016. Grant worked as a law clerk for D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, whom President Donald Trump has nominated to a seat on the Supreme Court, and also spent time in the Bush White House before attending law school.
A member of the conservative Federalist Society, Grant herself appears on President Donald Trump’s published shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees.
It was her time as Georgia’s top legal advocate that drew the most scrutiny during her nomination process, with Democrats and liberal groups expressing concern about positions she took in the courtroom on behalf of the state.
Grant helped draft a friend of the court brief Georgia joined in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court case that struck down provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The brief argued the law’s requirement that certain states receive pre-clearance before changing their voting laws was outdated and needed to be refreshed with more modern data.
Grant also told senators she either reviewed, edited or did both for briefs Georgia joined in cases advocating conservative positions on issues from gay marriage to the federal health care law’s birth control mandate to Obama-era immigration policy.
When faced with questions about this advocacy work during her nomination process, Grant explained she was representing her state’s best interests and doing her job as an advocate. She said that job would change if she was confirmed to the 11th Circuit.
“It’s not my decision what the law should be, it’s my decision to determine what the law is, what the Constitution requires, what the statute requires and how those and other precedents come up with a result in a particular case,” Grant said at her nomination hearing in May. “That’s what I do as a judge and I think it’s very important, as I’ve said, to understand that that’s our role and not a different role. If I wanted to make policy, then I should have run for the state assembly.”
But civil rights and liberal groups argued Grant will not so easily be able to cast aside her past legal advocacy when she moves behind the bench.
“Ms. Grant’s confirmation continues the Senate Republicans’ packing of our federal courts with Trump loyalists and ideologues,” Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement. “Grant earned a place on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist because of her troubling history of challenging voting rights, LGBTQ rights, labor rights, women’s access to health care, environmental protections and gun safety.”
Grant is the 24th federal circuit court judge the Senate has confirmed during the Trump administration, far outpacing the rate at which President Barack Obama was able to place judges on the appellate courts.
Grant initially faced opposition from Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who held up her nomination for weeks in protest of the Trump administration’s tariffs policies. Flake dropped his blockade on Trump nominees earlier this month, when the Senate voted on a resolution related to the president’s tariffs powers.
Grant cleared the Senate 52-46 Tuesday afternoon with Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., the only Democrats to vote in her favor.
Republicans praised Grant’s confirmation on Tuesday, saying she will be a valuable addition to the federal bench.
“Justice Grant is immensely qualified and there’s no doubt in my mind that she will do a fantastic job serving the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said in a statement. “Throughout her career, Justice Grant has established a long record of defending and upholding the Constitution. Our country needs more judges like Justice Grant and President Trump made an excellent choice in selecting her for this position.”