The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Don Willett of Texas, the most “prolific social media judge in America” who recently helped save a choking man’s life, to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Willett was confirmed 50-47.
Willett, a Texas Supreme Court justice, gained notoriety for his use of Twitter and crowned himself the “most avid and prolific social media judge in America.” His tweets, though, garnered him attention from Senate Democrats during his confirmation hearing.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked Willett during the hearing last month to explain tweets about bacon and former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez.
Willett’s tweet about bacon, posted in April 2015 the day after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, stated, “I could support recognizing a constitutional right to marry bacon.”
His tweet about Rodriguez said, "Go away, A-Rod," and included a link to a Fox News article about a transgender student in California playing on the girls' softball team.
Go away, A-Rod. “@FoxNews: California's transgender law allows male high schooler to make girls' softball team http://t.co/hnTrWAaV8g"— Justice Don Willett (@JusticeWillett) February 14, 2014
Despite the controversy over his tweets, Willett’s nomination passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on an 11-9 party-line-vote.
The Texas Supreme Court justice has remained quiet on social media since Trump nominated him to the federal appeals court in October. But Willett made headlines late last month when he helped a choking man at an Austin, Texas, Chick-fil-A.
Willett and another patron performed the Heimlich maneuver on the man, who said he choked on a gluten-free bun.
Willett has served on the Texas Supreme Court since 2005. He also served as the deputy attorney general and chief legal counsel to the Texas attorney general, and worked as the deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy at the Justice Department.
His confirmation brings the number of Trump’s federal appeals court appointees to 11. Trump is now one nominee shy of breaking the record for federal appeals court judges confirmed during a president’s first year in office.
Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon each had 11 nominees confirmed during their first year in office.
Because Republicans hold a majority of seats in the Senate, Democrats lack the power to stop any of Trump’s judicial nominees. Democrats changed a Senate rule in 2013 that allows nominees to be advanced and confirmed by a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes previously needed.