A Williams & Connolly litigation partner was confirmed Tuesday to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where she’ll become one of the youngest federal appeals judges appointed by President Donald Trump.
Allison Jones Rushing, who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas from 2010-2011, was confirmed in a vote of 53-44 to a seat on the Richmond, Virginia-based Fourth Circuit. The North Carolina native was a 2007 graduate of Duke University School of Law. Rushing succeeds Allyson Duncan of North Carolina, who was the Fourth Circuit’s first African-American female judge.
Rushing became a partner in 2017 at Williams & Connolly, where her practice primarily focuses on appellate matters. She said in a Senate questionnaire that she has filed more than 45 briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court. Rushing earned more than $650,000 in partner compensation in 2017, according to a financial disclosure she filed as part of the nomination process.
Democrats had raised questions about whether Rushing’s relative youth—she was 36 years old at the time of her nomination—should disqualify her for a seat on a federal appeals court. The average age at the time of appointment for federal appeals judges was 50, according to a 2017 report by the Congressional Research Service.
Rushing told senators that “preparation for the federal appellate bench is not merely a matter of years but of accruing the relevant experience. I have extensive experience relevant to the work of a federal appellate judge.” She said law partners at Williams & Connolly—”a politically and demographically diverse group”—submitted a letter supporting her nomination.
Rushing also said a majority of the American Bar Association rated her as “qualified.”
Democrats were not the only ones who questioned her experience. Sen. John Kennedy, the junior Republican from Louisiana, pressed Rushing on her experience during her October confirmation hearing.
“I’m not trying to be rude. I can see your resume. You’re a rockstar,” Kennedy said. “But I think to be a really good federal judge you’ve gotta have some life experience. And tell me—Williams & Connolly is a great law firm, a lot of great lawyers there. Tell me why you’re more qualified to be on the Fourth Circuit than some of the Williams & Connolly [lawyers] that have been there for 20 years, 25, 30 years in the trenches?”
Rushing said her experience handling a variety of cases the U.S. Supreme Court and various appeals courts made her qualified. Those cases included criminal law, products liability, intellectual property, commercial disputes, federal statutes and constitutional issues.
From 2007 to 2008, Rushing clerked for then-Judge Neil Gorsuch on the Tenth Circuit, and a year later she clerked for Judge David Sentelle on the D.C. Circuit.