Nearly One-Third of Trump’s Judicial Nominees Have Anti-LGBT Records, Lambda Legal Reveals in New Analysis Documenting Record Speed with Which Trump Is Reshaping the Courts

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December 20, 2017

Analysis Documents How Federal Courts Are Growing Increasingly Hostile Toward LGBT People Under Trump’s Reign, the Triggering of a Judicial Catastrophe with Sweeping Consequences for LGBT Americans

Washington, DC – Nearly one-third of President Donald Trump’s federal judicial nominees have anti-LGBT records, Lambda Legal revealed today in a new analysis documenting the record speed with which President Trump is reshaping the courts, creating a judicial landscape that is growing increasingly hostile toward LGBT people. The brief analysis provides a snapshot of Trump’s impact on the courts at the end of his first year in office, underscoring the breakneck pace with which Trump is filling judicial vacancies: 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, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton during their first year in office) as well as 6 district court judges and a Supreme Court justice. The record speed with which President Trump is reshaping the courts, coupled with the staggeringly high number of judges with anti-LGBT records whom he has nominated for lifetime appointments, is triggering a growing and vast judicial crisis for LGBT people, with sweeping consequences that will last decades after Trump is gone.

“We are in the midst of a judicial crisis for LGBT Americans, spurred by Donald Trump’s full-on assault on our rights, our families, and our children,” said Sharon McGowan, Director of Strategy at Lambda Legal. “For decades, the federal courts have arguably been the most important backstop in protecting the rights of those most vulnerable in our country, and each federal judge, each case, and each decision has an impact on an unquantifiable number of Americans.  Many of the basic protections that the LGBT community now enjoys – including the freedom to marry and the right to have those marriages respected by even hostile state governments – have been won through litigation in the federal courts. So, when one out of every three nominees that Donald Trump has put up for a lifetime appointment to serve on the bench has an anti-LGBT record, you can be sure that Lambda Legal is going to fight back on behalf of all LGBT people, everyone living with HIV, and all Americans.

McGowan continued: “Over the last year, we’ve seen Trump nominate judges who are unqualified and hostile to our community – they have used slurs like “faggot” in public addresses, have called our children a part of ‘Satan’s plan,’ and have even targeted a transgender teenager on Twitter for public ridicule and mockery.  What’s even worse is that President Trump and the Senate are pushing these nominees through at a breakneck speed. Until recently, the Senate Judiciary has been a total rubber stamp for every one of his nominees, regardless of how horrible their record has been proven, and the Senate has confirmed more of Trump’s nominees to circuit courts than the total number of circuit court judges of all three of his predecessors combined at the same time in their presidency. This is a terrifying fact because each of these confirmed judges will outlast this administration and have the potential to decimate civil rights in the Trump’s vision for generations to come.”

The analysis (which can be read in full here) illustrates a landscape growing increasingly hostile toward LGBT people:

  • Nearly one-in-three of Trump’s judicial nominees have records that demonstrate hostility towards the rights of LGBT people.  While several of these nominees are anti-LGBT activists who have openly denigrated LGBT people and families, others have more quietly undermined LGBT rights and protections. 
  • As a result, Lambda Legal has publicly opposed 16 of Trump’s 59 judicial nominees, and has thoroughly documented how each nominee’s record poses a threat to LGBT civil rights. Lambda Legal has concluded that this cluster of nominees would be unable to administer justice impartially to all Americans.
  • Trump’s judicial nominees with anti-LGBT records include: Neil Gorsuch, Gregory Katsas, Kyle Duncan, Don Willett, John K. Bush, Amy Coney Barrett, Allison Eid, Stephanos Bibas, Joan Larsen, Steven Grasz, David Stas, Mark Norris, Jeff Mateer, Matthew Kacsmaryk, Stephen Schwartz, and Damien Schiff.
  • Of particular concern is the impact Trump’s nominees will have on LGBT people living in the South. The largest percentage (35%) of LGBT people in the United States live in the South, with the combined population of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas including approximately 772,000 LGBT people, and an estimated 57,000 same-sex couples. LGBT families in this part of the country are more likely to lack employment protections, earn less than $24,000 a year, and report that they cannot afford food or health care, and are less likely to have insurance than anywhere else in the country.
    • Set against this backdrop, Trump has named four circuit court nominees for the Fifth Circuit alone, which consists of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. There are 17 active judges currently serving here. LGBT people in these states report high rates of discrimination, and polls have found that 81% of residents in Louisiana and Mississippi and 79% in Texas think that LGBT people experience discrimination

The full analysis from Lambda Legal on Trump’s judicial nominees and his larger impact on the federal courts at the close of his first year in office can be found here


Contact Info

For further information, or to speak with a representative of Lambda Legal, please contact Tom Zigo at