It’s no secret that Americans all over the country are watching Alabama this week. The candidacy of former Alabama judge Roy Moore for the vacant U.S. Senate seat, particularly in light of appalling allegations raised by several women, has made the state the epicenter for our national conversations about not just politics, but race, the rule of law, and even basic morality.

But the Senate is quietly considering another critical issue that impacts Alabama and the rest of the country too: the nomination of a 36-year-old man named Brett Talley for a lifetime seat on the federal district court in Alabama.  

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Alabama’s only member of the Congressional Black Caucus, we are deeply concerned – disturbed even – by the prospect of Mr. Talley becoming a federal judge in Alabama, and we believe all Americans should be, too.

First, the context and history of the seat Mr. Talley is nominated for in the Middle District of Alabama is critical to understanding why his potential confirmation could be so damaging.

The Middle District of Alabama has played a central role in our nation’s progress on civil rights over the past half century.  For example, it was a decision from the Middle District of Alabama that allowed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s marchers to continue their journey to Montgomery.  It was a decision from the Middle District of Alabama that declared Montgomery’s segregated buses unconstitutional following the boycotts galvanized by Rosa Parks’ arrest.  The Middle District of Alabama ruled that African American men and women must be allowed to serve on Alabama juries, struck down Alabama’s poll tax, and mandated integration of public schools.

It is within this context and history that we must view the nomination of Mr. Talley, whose background and lack of experience are, frankly, shocking. 

Mr. Talley’s behavior and history outside of the courtroom paints a portrait of someone almost uniquely unfit to serve as a federal judge in Alabama.  Thousands of Internet posts and comments – which Mr. Talley failed to even disclose – reveal a prejudice that has no place in the nation’s judiciary.

The full column is available here.