While many experts expect President Donald Trump to nominate Amy Coney Barrett or Barbara Lagoa to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, Allison Jones Rushing is a dark horse candidate who hails from North Carolina. Rushing, 38, was included in Trump’s original list of future nominees unveiled by the president on September 9 and is on a final shortlist of women to replace the recently deceased Ginsburg. Trump has declared his intention to announce a woman to fill the vacancy on September 26, 2020.
Confirmed as a federal judge on the District Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2019, Rushing keeps her chambers in Asheville. She is currently the youngest federal appeals court judge in the entire nation, a fact some believe may diminish her chances at the nomination this go around.
Rushing was born and raised in Western North Carolina, growing up in East Flat Rock. Her parents both taught public school and Rushing herself attended public schools from kindergarten through high school. Rushing said her love for the law developed during the Wade Edwards Mock Trial Program in the North Carolina schools.
She attended Wake Forest University and Duke Law School. She joked during a 2019 speech in Asheville that, “I was first a Demon Deacon at Wake Forest University and during a dramatic conversion became a Blue Devil at Duke University.”
When asked by Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy (R) what her biggest failure in life happened to be during her senate confirmation hearings in 2018, Rushing cited her lack of athleticism and prowess in sports. Her response is a sign that her law career has undoubtedly worked out well and she has long been considered a rising star in the legal profession. Rushing did note the challenges of balancing career and family life in her hearings as well. She is married with one young son.
Rushing may be one of the most conservative jurists being considered for the high court. She has been a member of the Federalist Society since 2012 and received no votes from Democrats during her 2019 confirmation vote. Democrats and many on the Left have attacked her for interning at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal non-profit that has won numerous religious liberty cases at the U.S. Supreme Court over the last decade.
Rushing has clerked for both Justice Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch when he was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Thomas is often cited as the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court. After that, she was a partner at the prestigious Williams & Connolly law firm in Washington D.C. before being appointed and confirmed to the federal bench.
Given her relative youth, she was asked by Sen. Kennedy why she was qualified as opposed to her more senior colleagues at her firm for the position and she stated, “My experience in the federal courts of appeals and Supreme Court is why I’m qualified.” Overall, the American Bar Association rated her as qualified for the post, which is not as high as their “well qualified” rating. A minority on the committee did rate Rushing “well qualified.”
In her introduction to her vote before the U.S. Senate, Sen. Thom Tillis called her “one of the fast-rising stars in the legal profession.”
Tyler Brooks, a Raleigh area attorney, was a classmate of Rushing’s at Wake Forest. “I knew Allison Jones Rushing during her time at Wake Forest, when we were both undergraduate students there,” says Brooks. “She was always known as a smart, kind, and hardworking student with an exceptional talent for music. I can’t imagine how anyone could ever utter a negative word against her.”
Even if Rushing is passed over this time, there is little doubt she will be a strong contender for the high court again if Trump is reelected and another seat opens up. However, if she is nominated and confirmed, there is the potential that she could be the longest serving Supreme Court justice in American history.