During a judicial committee meeting Wednesday (January 12), Sen. Marsha Blackburn vowed to block Andre Mathis' nomination to the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit after alleging he has a criminal record.
"He has a rap sheet with a laundry list of citations, including multiple failures to appear in court," Blackburn said of Mathis. "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 criminal record she's tried to drum up was three speeding tickets Mathis received over ten years ago –– one for going five miles over the limit. His driver's license was temporarily suspended when he didn't pay them on time and didn't show up to court.
Mathis told the panel he simply forgot to pay them and didn't realize his license was suspended until he received a notice in the mail from the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles –– and then paid them off. Mathis reiterated to the committee that he has never been arrested or charged with a crime.
"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. Dick Durbin of Illinois said, seemingly mocking Blackburn who didn't to mention her own police encounter she had just last year when she was pulled over and flashed her congressional badge before being let go.
Sen. Cory Booker, who joined the hearing after Blackburn's remarks, said he laughed at how she described Mathis' driving record.
"I laughed with my staff that I have a rap sheet now, probably much longer than the witness'," Booker said, describing his experience as one of the first Black kids who moved in his New Jersey neighborhood.
Booker asked Mathis if he experienced "driving while Black" too to which Mathis replied:
"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."
Booker said Mathis' response was "great" and "in many ways, the humility and respect I think your character speaks to."