More than a third of President Donald Trump’s circuit court nominees have a documented anti-LGBTQ history, according to a new report by Lambda Legal.
The report found that 36 percent of Trump’s nominees have a history of anti-LGBTQ bias, including Steven Menashi, who supported banning LGB people from the military and denigrated the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling; Lawrence VanDyke, who claimed that marriage equality harms children and society; Eric Murphy, who argued against same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges; and Chad Readler, who, while serving in the U.S. Department of Justice, was associated with almost every Trump administration initiative to undermine LGBTQ protections. This number is maintained in 2019 alone: Lambda Legal opposed seven of the 19 circuit court nominees confirmed in 2019.
“This is just the canary in the coal mine,” Sasha Buchert, a senior attorney with Lamda Legal, told Newsweek. “These are nominees that we’re seeing who are not just inimical to LGBTQ protections but to civil rights generally. We don’t oppose people based on their affiliation, but it’s troubling that they’re all reading from the same playbook.”
The Senate has thus far confirmed 50 of Trump’s nominees—about a third of the approximately 170 judges serving at the circuit court level. Eight of the twelve circuit courts nationwide are now made up of 25 percent or more Trump nominees. The percentage is highest in the Eleventh Circuit–which serves Alabama, Georgia, and Florida–at 42 percent.
Under the Trump administration, three of the nation’s courts have flipped from a majority nominees nominated by a Democratic president to a majority Republican: the Second Circuit (Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire), the Third Circuit (Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), and the Eleventh Circuit.
Lambda Legal also found that Trump’s nominees tend to be unqualified; Steven Grasz, Jonathan Kobes, and Lawrence VanDyke are the only circuit court judges to be confirmed in thirty years that have received a “Not Qualified” rating form the American Bar Association. VanDyke, who was confirmed in early December, was described by the ABA as “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-today practice including procedural rules.”