Lambda Legal: Ninth Circuit Nominee’s Demonstrated Lack of Judgment is Disqualifying

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May 9, 2018

Today, Lambda Legal urged Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein to oppose the nomination of Ryan Bounds, President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In a joint letter signed by 31 other national, state, and local LGBT organizations, Lambda Legal asked the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose Mr. Bounds’ nomination due to his expressed animosity towards the LGBT community, his hostility towards people of color, and his overall lack of judgement.

In the letter, Lambda Legal cites multiple examples of writings from Mr. Bounds during his tenure as the opinions editor of the Stanford University Review. Mr. Bounds wrote that activism from “overly-sensitive” racial minorities and the LGBT community would lead to a “pestilence” that “stalks us” and “threatens to corrupt our scholastic experience.”

Mr. Bounds claimed that students offended by “nerdy Asian” stereotypes were the result of “sensitivity, finely tuned by years of multiculturalism.” He also claimed that the efforts by non-white students who “divide up by race for their feel-good ethnic hoedowns…seem always to contribute more to restricting consciousness, aggravating intolerance, and pigeonholing cultural identities than many a Nazi bookburning.”

“The American people want judges who will protect everyone’s rights and freedoms, no matter who you are or where you come from – not columnists who trivialize the pain and suffering of minorities,” said Sharon McGowan, Director of Strategy at Lambda Legal.

“President Trump has effectively purchased 10 percent of the real estate in our federal appellate court system and he hopes to add to his growing monopoly with the nomination of Mr. Bounds, another nominee with a record replete with explicit anti-LGBT bias.”

Commenting on the attempt to sidestep the highly troubling nature of these writings, the letter details how Mr. Bounds’ and his supporters have tried to “diminish their significance by arguing that a nominee’s college writings should not be grounds to oppose his confirmation.”

However, Chairman Grassley himself has opposed candidates like Mr. Bounds with troubling college writings because, in the Senator’s words, they require “a closer scrutiny,” and should not be given “the benefit of the doubt.” In fact, Mr. Bounds does not deny that these writings reflected views that he held, but rather has asked that they be excused because they were written more than 20 years ago.

The letter also addresses the fact that Mr. Bounds has no home-state support from Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley. This is due, in large part, to the senators’ concerns over his published works at Stanford, his hesitance to disavow the statements, and his failure to disclose the writings to the Oregon bipartisan judicial commission.

The organizations believe this “calls into question his candor and willingness to adhere to the rule of law even when it leads to results with which he is personally uncomfortable.”

The organizations wrote that, “The double-standard now in effect in the Senate is as shameless as it is shameful. By moving ahead with a hearing for Mr. Bounds’ nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee disrespects not only the individual Senators whose concerns are being overridden, but also undermines the credibility of the Senate as an institution.

"The Senate’s constitutional duty to provide meaningful advice and consent is being cast aside in favor of a highly partisan effort to pack the courts with nominees whose records are replete with disturbing and disqualifying information (when the nominees even deign to disclose such information at all). Unless the Senate changes course, the credibility of all three branches of government will suffer grave and potentially irreparable harm.”