Allen Winsor, an appellate judge in Florida whose nomination to U.S. District Court was fiercely opposed by a coalition of progressive groups, was confirmed on Wednesday to serve as a district judge in the Northern District of Florida.
It’s a lifetime appointment for the 43-year-old Winsor, a Tallahassee resident, who was nominated by President Trump in April of 2018 for the judgeship. The position is a key one, because the North Florida courtroom is where cases against state government get heard.
Winsor has been serving on the 1st District Court of Appeal since 2016. Prior to that he served nearly three years as state solicitor general in Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office, where he was the lead counsel on a number of controversial cases that Bondi took as AG.
Winsor’s nomination was opposed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations. Citing cases on LGBTQ equality, abortion rights, voting rights, gun safety and environmental protection, the group said that Winsor “does not possess the neutrality and fair-mindedness necessary to serve in a lifetime position as a federal judge.”
The group Progress Florida also blasted his nomination last summer.
“We want fair-minded constitutionalists appointed to the federal courts, who will value equality and justice for all and who fully understand the impact of the law on all Americans,” Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida wrote. “We don’t want judges like Allen Winsor who will roll back the clock on rulings that protect and advance historically disadvantaged groups such as the LGBTQ community, women, workers and racial and ethnic minorities.”
While he served as solicitor general, Winsor defended Florida’s 2008 law banning same-sex marriages that was ultimately struck down. He was one of the attorneys who argued in a legal brief for the state that recognizing same-sex marriages from other states would “impose significant public harm” and that the state has a legitimate interest in defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the Associated Press reported.
Winsor also defended a Florida law that imposed fines on organizations that engaged in voter registration drives but didn’t promptly submit the registration applications. The law was challenged by the League of Women Voters of Florida and a host of other groups, and was eventually struck down by Federal Judge Robert Hinkle, whom Winsor is now succeeding.
A year ago, Winsor was included on a list of possible nominees on the North Florida federal court by the state’s two U.S. Senators, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson. But after Democratic opposition to Winsor began to build up, Nelson said he would no longer support his nomination.
Nelson lost his bid for reelection to Rick Scott last fall. In a written statement released this afternoon, Scott hailed Winsor’s confirmation.
“Throughout his career, Judge Winsor has demonstrated a respect for the separation of powers and a devotion to the role of the judiciary in our democratic system,” he said. “As Governor, I had the honor of appointing Judge Winsor to the First District Court of Appeal in 2016, and I know he will continue to fairly uphold the rule of law and serve our state and nation well.”