This week, under the shadow of a looming government shutdown, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on a slate of 17 of Trump’s judicial nominees, along with a number of other controversial executive branch nominees. Among the group of judicial nominees on the agenda for tomorrow are five men who have spent their careers working to undermine civil rights, especially for LGBT Americans: Kyle Duncan to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; Supreme Court “short-lister” David Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals; Matthew Kacsmaryk to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas; Thomas Farr to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina; and Mark Norris to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Lambda Legal expects Senate Majority Leader McConnell to move quickly to try and confirm more of these controversial nominees while the attention of Senators and the nation is focused elsewhere. Lambda Legal is urging senators on the committee to oppose these nominations before Leader McConnell rushes them to the Senate floor and carries out Trump’s plan to pack the court judges who won’t protect LGBT rights, relationships, and families.
According to a widely-cited analysis by Lambda Legal, the Trump Administration is attempting to pack the courts, at an alarming rate, with judges who oppose civil rights for LGBT Americans. Nearly 1 in 3 judicial nominees have explicitly anti-LGBT records, so failing to stop these nominees will result in federal courts growing increasingly hostile toward LGBT rights during Trump’s presidency and long after he has vacated the White House. The breakneck pace with which the Senate is confirming Trump’s judges is also striking, especially when compared with past administrations. In his first year alone, the analysis indicates President Trump has secured confirmations for 12 circuit court judges, which is more than the combined number of circuit court judges confirmed by Presidents Barack Obama (3), George W. Bush (5), and Bill Clinton (3) during their first year in office. Trump has also secured confirmations for 6 district court judges and a Supreme Court justice. The impact that this will have on the LGBT community will be felt for generations to come.
“It is disgraceful that, as the nation teeters on the brink of a government shutdown, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley is forcing a vote on almost two dozen nominees, including a number of highly controversial judicial nominees who are being considered for lifetime appointments to the federal bench,” said Sharon McGowan, Director of Strategy at Lambda Legal. “It is the height of cynicism for Senators to be forcing a vote on these nominees at a time when millions of families are worrying about essential government services being cut off at the end of this week, and suffering in other ways as a result of Washington’s divisiveness and dysfunction.
“Chairman Grassley and Leader McConnell have discarded longstanding traditions and safeguards in order to jam these nominees through while no one is looking, and Lambda Legal is here to say: enough is enough. The failed nominations of Jeff Mateer, Brett Talley and Matthew Peterson should have sent a clear message that more time – not less – is needed to scrutinize the records of these potential lifetime appointees. Moreover, there are two new members of the Senate Judiciary Committee – Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris – who deserve a chance to question these nominees during new hearings before any votes are cast.
“The courts play an essential role in protecting those most vulnerable in this country, and the process to appoint new judges should not be rushed. Senators who simply roll over and allow Donald Trump to pack the courts with lifetime appointees who oppose civil rights and who have often spent their careers seeking to undermine LGBT rights, are ignoring their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent in the process. We demand better, and deserve better from our Senators.”