Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), the lead GOP sponsor of a highly controversial bill that would allow media organizations to formally create cartels, was the lone Republican on Wednesday evening to join all Democrats voting for a judicial nominee from President Joe Biden who has an extensive criminal record.
The vote to advance Biden’s nomination of Andre B. Mathis to be a Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit passed the U.S. Senate on mostly party lines on Wednesday night, 48 to 45.
Invoked, 48-45: Motion to invoke cloture on Executive Calendar #736 Andre B. Mathis to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit.
— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) September 7, 2022
Several senators of both parties were absent or not voting. While 47 of those 48 yes votes were Democrats, one was a Republican: Kennedy.
Kennedy’s office has not responded to a request for comment on why he joined the Democrats in doing this. The senator has also not agreed to an interview offer on a growing list of topics including his vote and his decision to lead the charge for the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), a Democrat bill spearheaded by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that would empower establishment media organizations to create cartels to collectively bargain with Big Tech companies. Kennedy’s decision to lead that bill, which is headed to a markup in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, is extremely controversial and runs counter to the views of most Republicans.
Almost every other Republican on the committee has already publicly opposed the JCPA, including Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Thom Tillis (R-NC). While Sens. Ben Sasse (R-NE) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have not publicly taken a position on the bill yet, most expect them to oppose it when the time comes for votes. The only Republican on the Committee to stand with Kennedy on this bill is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and only a handful of others have cosponsored the highly controversial legislation.
As Breitbart News has reported this week, Kennedy had raised concerns about his own bill—the JCPA—multiple times, securing multiple changes to it. Kennedy’s office disagreed with the characterization that that meant he raised concerns with the bill, but in two separate statements on Tuesday actually confirmed that he did obtain changes to the proposal that he claims help conservatives but that critics think are wholly insufficient in rectifying the serious structural flaws with the legislation.
That Kennedy, who is normally a brash and outspoken critic of the left, joining Democrats on both the wildly controversial JCPA and on the confirmation of Mathis to the Sixth Circuit is particularly interesting in that his actions cut against the carefully crafted public image of the fighter he frames himself as in television appearances. Kennedy’s colorful language ripping some Democrat proposals have turned him into a character in the Senate, almost a fan favorite of sorts for many on the right, but now his voting and legislative record coming under the microscope raises critical questions as to whether or not that act is just that: An act. The perfect example of this hypocrisy of the highest order on display for the American public is in how Kennedy has handled the JCPA: He knows the bill was flawed and rather than walk away from it and withdraw cosponsorship and work against its passage, he develops phony so-called fixes to it that do not actually solve the problems of the bill. Kennedy’s decision, per his aide’s comments to Breitbart News on Tuesday, essentially confirms that the senator is knowingly and willfully pushing through the legislative process a bill that he understands would lead to discrimination against conservatives. In fact, the so-called fix he added to the JCPA that his team was so excited to share with Breitbart News even admits that it will discriminate against conservatives by nature of the addition of a private right of action that would supposedly allow said conservatives to sue when they are discriminated against.
Nonetheless, Kennedy’s betrayal of Republicans and conservatives was previously, before Wednesday, limited to the JCPA for the most part. But now that he has decided to join Democrats in voting to advance the nomination of a Biden judicial appointee with an extensive criminal record—Mathis had his license suspended several times over several years for serious moving violations on the roads, something that was core to his confirmation hearings in commentary the nominee made to Democrat senators—Kennedy has abandoned the pretext of championing conservative values and GOP positions against the insanity of the left and the radicalism of Democrats.
Mathis’s criminal record was central to his confirmation hearings—and was well known to senators for months before this vote.
“Mathis has a history of habitual speeding, and his driver’s license was suspended on three separate occasions, according to Tennessee state records,” Breitbart News’s Jordan Dizon-Hamilton reported earlier this year, back in January. “Mathis drove on a suspended license during all three periods his license was suspended. Driving on a suspended license is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.”
In fact, Mathis even wrote in a letter to Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), the ranking member and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee respectively, about the several times he was driving in violation of the law and claimed it did not impact his ability to serve as a judge.
“I want to assure the Committee that I am a law-abiding citizen and my driving record is not a reflection of my character or my fitness to serve as a judge,” Mathis wrote.
Most Republicans disagreed. In fact, all of them did—except Kennedy.
In his letter to the committee, though, Mathis claimed ignorance of his suspensions of his license. More from the January piece from Dixon-Hamilton in Breitbart News:
Mathis’s license was first suspended for more than a month in 2008, from April 10 to May 15, which he claims he “cannot find a mention of” after “diligently” searching his personal and formal records.
“What I can attest to, however, is that I never knowingly drove with a suspended license, and if my license was suspended at the time, upon receiving notification of that suspension, I would have taken prompt steps to rectify the matter,” Mathis added.
Tennessee records revealed his license was suspended a second time for nearly seven months between July 2010 and February 2011. According to Mathis, this suspension occurred because he “sincerely forgot” to pay a traffic citation he received in Mississippi in 2010. However, Mathis failed to appear in court for trial, which is why his license was suspended. Failure to appear in court can result in a contempt of court charge and an arrest warrant.
“My recollection is that I put the traffic citation in the glove compartment of my car, and then I sincerely forgot to pay the citation upon returning home to Tennessee,” Mathis wrote. He then explained that he paid the citation fee within a month of receiving notice of his suspension.
The third license suspension found in Mathis’s driving records lasted for roughly ten months, beginning in April 2010 until February 2011. Mathis does recall the reason for the third suspension, noting that he received a traffic citation in Alabama while traveling to visit his father.
“I do recall receiving a traffic citation in Alabama in 2009 or 2010 for driving over the speed limit,” Mathis explained. “I do not have a separate recollection of how that ticket was resolved, nor do I recall receiving a notification that my license was suspended as a result.”
Mathis also failed to appear for his Alabama court date, resulting in the suspension. Traffic violations are generally considered criminal misdemeanor offenses in Alabama, and when someone does not appear in court, they are in criminal contempt of court and the court may suspend the license, issue a fee, and/or issue an arrest warrant.
That Joe Biden would nominate someone like this to such an important judicial appointment says a lot about the president, andsays a lot about Senate Democrats who would vote to confirm him. But it’s no surprise to see the Democrats, the party that championed defunding police and other policies pushing leniency on crime, go woke. What is shocking, and particularly revealing, is for someone conservatives thought was one of them to go along with it. For that, and for his work on JCPA, Kennedy has just invited enormous scrutiny of his record as a whole—especially as Republicans nationwide clamor for elected leaders who actually do what they said thet would they do rather than just talk big. There’s no bigger talker in the Senate GOP conference than Kennedy, but his actions are starting to raise serious questions about whether he can back it up at all.