Press Release

Second Circuit Nominee Menashi’s Vile Record is Disqualifying

September 5, 2019

Washington, D.C., September 5, 2019 – Alliance for Justice today released a report on the record of Steven Menashi, President Donald Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. AFJ President Nan Aron released the following statement:

“Steven Menashi has clearly spent his legal career advocating for policies reflecting the racist, sexist, homophobic rhetoric of his past writings. As Betsy Devos’s right-hand man at the Department of Education, he has worked to strip away critical rights and legal protections for women, sexual assault survivors, LGBTQ people, students, and people of color. Demonstrating how far outside even the conservative mainstream he is, in case after case, his views and policies have been repudiated by federal judges. Menashi’s writings and record are completely disqualifying for anyone seeking a lifetime seat on the federal bench. Every senator who votes to confirm Menashi will own the vile positions he has put on paper, as well as the harm he will cause the people of the Second Circuit.”

The AFJ report finds that:

  • At the Department of Education, Menashi was at the forefront of the effort to roll back Title IX protections for survivors of sexual assault on campus. Rescinding these protections will cause survivors to lose access to their education, discourage survivors from coming forward, and enable schools to sweep sexual violence under the rug.
  • In his writings, Menashi minimized sexual harassment of women, criticized “Take Back the Night” marches, and called discipline based on verbal abuse or harassing behavior “neo-McCarthyism.”
  • Menashi decried the collection of race data in college admissions, comparing it to Germany under Adolf Hitler, writing that “sixty years after the promulgation of the Nuremberg laws, universities persist in cataloguing students according to race on college applications and official documents.”
  • At the Department of Education, Menashi was part of an effort to narrow civil rights enforcement, and he fought to delay implementation of an Obama-era rule designed to keep children of color from being disproportionately punished or placed in special education settings. A federal judge found that the Department “fail[ed] to account for the costs to children, their parents, and society,” violated the law, and required the rule to go into effect.
  • Menashi opposed need-based financial aid, writing that the system “punishes families with the foresight and prudence to save for their children’s education.”
  • Menashi also worked to delay an Obama-era rule that would have made it easier for students who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges to receive financial help. A federal judge ruled that the delay was unlawful, and that Menashi’s defense of the delay contained “unacknowledged and unexplained” inconsistencies, “the hallmark of arbitrary and capricious decision-making.”
  • Menashi has implied that LGBTQ identities are “outside and above nature” and those who support equality are attempting to “peer[] down on the rest of creation with a godlike power to manipulate it for our own purposes.” In practice he has defended discrimination against LGBTQ people in public accommodations, writing that the “apparent motive is not to insure access to photography or wedding cakes,” but to penalize business owners attempting to “live in accordance with their religious beliefs.”
  • In past writings, Menashi defended a college fraternity that threw a “ghetto party” and called “ridiculous” the notion that “chanting the old Dartmouth football cheer, ‘Wah-Hoo-Wah! Scalp ‘Em!’ proceeds from a racist belief in the inferiority of American Indians.”
  • Menashi, who favorably repeated the Islamophobic myth that General Pershing executed Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pig’s fat, also praised Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Under Pinochet’s rule, over 3,000 people in Chile were killed and nearly 40,000 people were subjected to political imprisonment or torture. Menashi disagreed that Pinochet employed “excessive violence.”
  • Menashi has advocated extensively to make it prohibitively difficult for federal agencies to protect consumers, workers and clean air and water.

The full report can be found here.