Rhode Island District Court Nominee Faces Unexpected Question About Marxist Past During Confirmation Hearing

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island – Melissa DuBose, a former history and civics teacher in the Providence public school system, faced scrutiny during her confirmation hearing for a position on the Rhode Island District Court. Republican Senators John N. Kennedy and Marsha Blackburn questioned DuBose about an article from over two decades ago in which she mentioned being in a “Marxist phase.” Despite the line of questioning, DuBose adamantly denied being a Marxist and stated that she does not espouse Marxist theory or ideology.

The article in question was written by an undergraduate student who interviewed DuBose while she was teaching in the Providence public schools. DuBose claimed that she had been unaware of its publication until the day before the hearing. She explained that as a political science major in college, she had studied various political theorists, including Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Karl Marx, and Confucius. However, DuBose emphasized that she does not align herself with Marxist ideology.

DuBose’s nomination received strong support from Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, who highlighted her qualifications and the endorsements she received from various judicial and law enforcement entities. DuBose, who has been working as a state District Court judge, expressed her appreciation for the skills she developed as a teacher, such as active listening and empathy, which have aided her in her legal career.

During the hearing, Kennedy questioned DuBose about her experience observing federal jury trials, to which she responded that she handles and presides over trials every day as a state District Court judge. Kennedy’s line of questioning was criticized as federal trials are not televised, making it difficult for anyone to have watched them in person or on TV.

The confirmation process for judicial nominees has become increasingly partisan in recent years, but legal experts believe DuBose’s qualifications and clear responses will lead to her easy confirmation. Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, praised DuBose’s performance during the hearing, noting her ability to think on her feet and her solid support from senators.

If confirmed, DuBose would become the first person of color to serve on the US District Court in Rhode Island. Her supportive remarks towards her family, colleagues, and late mother, Reverend Sheila DuBose, who served as the pastor of Roger Williams Baptist Church, illustrated the guidance and values that have shaped her personal and professional life.

The confirmation hearing highlighted DuBose’s journey from teacher to lawyer to judge and emphasized the support she has garnered from the Rhode Island legal community. Her experience as an educator has shaped her approach to the law, focusing on patience, active listening, and the ability to empathize with others. As the confirmation process continues, DuBose’s qualifications and community support appear to position her as a strong candidate for the position.