Federal Courts and Nominations

RELEASE: Trump Nominee Joel Carson Called to Explain Support for Politician Who Fueled “Birther” Movement

WASHINGTON—Part-time Magistrate Judge Joel M. Carson III, of Roswell, New Mexico—President Trump’s nominee to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit—is scheduled to receive a hearing tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In advance of that hearing, Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following statement:

“Tomorrow morning, Republican and Democratic Senators should ask Judge Carson tough questions about his close connections to U.S. Representative Steve Pearce, a politician who openly fueled birtherism – the same atrocious, racist, manufactured falsehood about President Barack Obama that Donald Trump rode to political prominence. Unless Carson can justify his support for, and receiving support from, the birther-friendly Pearce, no Senator on the Judiciary Committee should vote to move his nomination to the Senate floor.”



President Trump’s announcement of Joel M. Carson III’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is here.

Senate Judiciary Committee announcement of hearing for Joel M. Carson III to be held Wednesday, February 14, 2018 is here.

Open Secrets list of contributions by Joel M. Carson III of Roswell, New Mexico, is here. Carson contributed more than $8,000 to Representative Pearce between 2008 and 2015.

Carson’s Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire is here. Carson mentions some of his connections to Pearce on pages 8 and 30, including, “On April 28, 2017, I informed the Chief of Staff to Congressman Steve Pearce that I wished to be considered for this position.”


Representative Steve Pearce currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives. In September 2010, Pearce was asked by a constituent at a town hall about President Obama’s status as a natural born American citizen. “I just want to know what is your position on Barack Obama if he is in fact a Kenyan-born, Indonesian Muslim,” the questioner reportedly asked. “What is your position on all of this?”

Pearce replied, in part, “My position is that Barack Obama raised the most significant questions himself. He said, after he came to the U.S., that he traveled to Pakistan. Now at the point that he traveled to Pakistan it was not legal to go there with a U.S. passport. And so he, himself, raised the greatest questions. I think that those questions need to be asked….” Pearce continued, “I’m content to let the courts handle that and it’s my understanding the Supreme Court is actually looking at this question because I think it’s an important question. But I absolutely believe that Barack Obama raises the most significant questions himself.” Pearce later refused to retract his answer to the constituent or to denounce birtherism. Pearce was endorsed in his 2010 election by so-called “Birther Queen” Orly Taitz.

Other noteworthy Carson contributions include $2,700 to Senator Ted Cruz in 2015 and $3,500 to Texas-based GOAL WestPAC from 2013-2014.

According to one 2016 report, “GOAL West is a federal super PAC based in Texas but fueled by oil and gas interests in New Mexico, with GOP Congressman Steve Pearce’s brother serving as its treasurer.” According to its website, GOAL West “seeks to identify and support candidates, issues and policies that protect and grow the energy, mining, timber, agricultural and natural resource industries, to promote and affect common-sense, liberty-based policies and solutions to the challenges facing our communities in order to create jobs, protect and support a growing economy and help develop a more self-sufficient nation.” According to Roll Call, Pearce’s campaign committee contributed $10,000 to GOAL WestPAC in April 2013. The Sunlight Foundation reported that contribution was returned to Pearce in September 2013.


Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.


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