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Nomination of Kristi Haskins Johnson

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 16, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, observers of the U.S. Senate might take note that their Senators just passed a host of bills and cleared a host of items from the calendar, representing bipartisan accomplishments on behalf of the leadership of the Senate--Republican leadership and Democratic leadership--a great deal of work by chairs and ranking members of committees and subcommittees, and I salute both sides of the aisle for these accomplishments.

In the same vein, we will vote in a few moments on a cloture motion for the judicial nomination of Kristi Haskins Johnson, and I would think that this would be another opportunity for a strong bipartisan vote. We passed two judges last week, as I recall, and both judges were confirmed with strong bipartisan support--strong support and welcome support on both sides of the aisle. And I would think that with regard to this particular nominee--our Mississippi candidate, Kristi Haskins Johnson--she would continue in that vein this afternoon and later on this week when I hope we will be voting to confirm her.

It is noteworthy that the Southern District of Mississippi has never had a woman Federal judge, and so Kristi Johnson will break new ground in that regard, and I am particularly delighted that this momentous accomplishment is right upon us.

She has had the distinct honor for the last several months of being Mississippi's first solicitor general. So this could turn out to be a groundbreaking year and a barrier-shattering year in more than one way for soon-to-be Judge Johnson.

In her current role as solicitor general, she serves as Mississippi's lead advocate for appellate litigation and works closely with the State attorney general in crafting legal strategy for significant legal cases in Mississippi and on a national scale. She has received the highest recommendation that a candidate for U.S. district judge can receive from the American Bar Association, and that is a ``qualified'' rating. As we know, candidates for appeals court judge can get a rating of ``highly qualified.'' The best you can get for district judge is ``qualified,'' so she received the highest rating she could possibly receive and rightly so.

She has a unique record of accomplishment as a public servant, a private attorney, a scholar, and a professor. She served over 5 years in the U.S. attorney's office in Jackson. There she prosecuted fraud and financial crimes as part of the Civil Division. Before that, she made her mark in private practice at the firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart in Jackson, MS, focusing there on labor law and employment issues.

Kristi Johnson is a native of Hurley, MS, population 985, in Jackson County, MS. She attended school there and then went on to receive her undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi, graduating in 2003. And then she was admitted to law school at Mississippi College School of Law, where she graduated summa cum laude, second in her class. As a law student, she served not only on the law review but as executive editor of the Mississippi College Law Review and received numerous American jurisprudence awards in areas such as criminal procedure, legal research and writing, and employment discrimination.

So excellence all the way through, including the time that she served as a clerk, both as a clerk at the district court level for Judge Sharion Aycock, Mississippi's first female district court judge in the Northern District of Mississippi, and then for appeals court judge, Leslie Southwick in the Fifth Circuit.

She takes time to share her skills as a teacher and an adjunct professor at her alma mater of Mississippi College School of Law. Ms. Johnson is a member of the American Inns of Court, the Federal Bar Association, and the Federalist Society. She resides in Brandon, MS.

In summary, I am just delighted by the fact that we are going to make some news and hurdle some previously existing barriers with this outstanding nominee. She has the academic, judicial, and personal qualifications necessary for a Federal jurist. I think she is going to make a great judge. People back home in Mississippi believe this also.